Papua New Guinea government plans to block access to Facebook


Papua New Guinea government plans to block access to Facebook

John Braddock

4 June 2018

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government declared on May 29 it will ban Facebook use for a month to give authorities time to analyse the social network for “fake” profiles and “illegal” usage.

Communications Minister Sam Basil told the PNG Post-Courier: “The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed.”

A start date is yet to be announced. Basil later told parliament he disputed the newspaper’s report about an impending ban. He said the government’s official position would be made known after studies into “the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook.” Nevertheless, Basil declared he was “not afraid to put an indefinite ban” on the networking site.

The Post-Courier defended its report. Meanwhile, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on May 29 that the PNG government intends to use its investigation to work out how to apply a restrictive “cyber-crime law” to social media more widely.

The move coincides with a decision to disconnect mobile phone sim cards that are not registered to users with formal identification. Basil told the ABC the disconnection would stop people using telecommunications and social media anonymously, claiming false accounts are used to “spread fake news and rumours.”

Basil previously said US Senate hearings on Facebook and a class action lawsuit against Cambridge Analytica and other companies over misuse of data raised concerns “for Papua New Guinea citizens.” Last month he commissioned a study of Facebook’s “impact” and the…

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