We have seen in the recent past some countries come up with laws to guide on the usage of social media. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the states that made such bold steps. On 28th May 2018, the country decided to shut down Facebook temporarily. This was meant to get hold of fake accounts. The move also aimed at blocking false news in this Pacific nation as the country prepares to host one of the most significant global summits in 2018.
Sam Basil, the country’s Communication Minister, said that the move could lead to replacing Facebook with another social network platform made locally for PNG citizens. But people did not receive the news well saying that it was unworkable and ill-timed. Basil said that they had planned to shut down Facebook in the country for one month. Moreover, he said that the move would allow scrapping out of defamatory information. It will also help in scrapping down pornography uploads from the platform. He also said that the move would give a chance to genuine people with real identity to responsibly use the social network.
Basil on his follow-up statement said that the platform is used for personal blogs and chats in PNG. It is also used as a forum for legitimate information and commercial services. But he maintained his stand in the interest to carry out a study on merits and demerits of using Facebook. According to Paul Barker, the executive director of PNG Institute of National Affairs, banning Facebook will be a mockery of the nation. The social media platform is widely used in PNG to expose corruption. It is also used to discuss politics. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation officials and MPs have depicted a high degree of sensitivity to various posts in the past. However, Basil denied the fact that the ban was a threat to the country’s freedom of speech. Bryan Kramer, opposition MP with a massive follower on Facebook was against the proposal.
The expected local alternative to Facebook has been alleged that it shared personal data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge. Cambridge Analytica is a consultancy company based in British.
There was no timeframe issued out for the shutdown of Facebook in PNG. However, other reports suggested that the move could coincide with the hosting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) at Port Moresby. The summit is expected to record the attendance of US President Donald Trump. This is expected to take place before the end of this year. Facebook’s spokesperson in Sydney said that they had contacted PNG authorities and were working to address the concerns.