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Solomon Islands government prepares to ban Facebook


Hamna Humail

17th Nov, 2020. 05:27 pm
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The Solomon Islands government is attempting to limit ‘abusive language’ therefore they are preparing to ban Facebook. Critics argue that it is an attempt to curtail criticism of the government.

If the ban is implemented, Solomon Islands will join China, Iran and North Korea in outlawing Facebook. Other countries including the island nation of Nauru have temporarily blocked it.

Solomon’s Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, brought the ban to cabinet on Monday. It’s not yet clear as to when the proposed ban will be implemented and for how long the government intends to enforce it.

Facebook is popular across the extensive groups of islands and is used as a primary means of communication by tens of thousands of islanders every day.

Facebook is widely used by the Government to disseminate information, particularly around public health during the Covid-19 pandemic. National addresses by the prime minister are also broadcasted on Facebook.

“Abusive language against minister, prime minister, character assassination, defamation … all these are issues of concern,” Agovaka told the Solomon Times newspaper.

“The use of the internet now in Solomon Islands needs to be properly regulated to safeguard our young people from harmful content … even young kids are able to download harmful stuff from the internet.”

Agovaka said the ban is not an attack on freedom of speech, stating that freedom of the press remains protected by law.

The social media platform was alight with anti-government rhetoric in the days after Sogavare’s election and was used by rioters to organise and congregate.

The opposition MP and foreign relations committee chairman Peter Kenilorea Jr said the ban on Facebook was an attempt by the government to shield itself from criticism and accountability. “As leaders, we… need to be held accountable by the electorate that place us in positions of power. We need to face the music from time to time. This is democracy.”

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