Sri Lankan government blocks social media following attacks

The Sri Lankan government is concerned that these platforms may allow for the spread of inflammatory content

The Sri Lankan government has blocked access to social media sites as it attempts to stop the spread of misinformation following a series of attacks that killed 290 people on Sunday.

Presidential spokesperson Udaya R Seneviratne said the government had “taken steps to temporarily block all social media avenues” until the investigations into the eight explosions at churches and hotels, which injured more than 450 people, were concluded.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have been blocked along with YouTube, Snapchat and Viber. Twitter appears to be running as normal, however.

The Sri Lankan government is concerned that these platforms may allow for the spread of inflammatory content and provoke more violence.

The block follows on from criticism of Facebook from the New Zealand government in the aftermath the attacks in Christchurch last month, which killed 50 people. There, Facebook was unable to prevent the live-streaming of the massacre as the videos were copied and reuploaded repeatedly.

In a statement to the Guardian, a Facebook spokesperson said they were “aware of the government’s statement regarding the temporary blocking of social media platforms”.

The spokesperson added: “Teams from across Facebook have been working to support first responders and law enforcement as well as to identify and remove content which violates our standards.”

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