Thursday September 19, 2019
Home Lead Story Here’s ...

Here’s Why Sri Lanka Does not Trust Social Media Platforms

Sri Lanka temporarily shut down Facebook earlier in 2018 after hate speech spread on the company’s apps resulted in mob violence

0
//
easter, srilanka,
Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. VOA

Battling the spread of hate speech on social media platforms especially Facebook for long, the Sri Lanka government on Sunday once again “temporarily blocked” social media from spreading fake news in the wake of deadly suicide bombings in the island that killed 290 people.

In a brief statement, the Sri Lankan President’s Secretary Udaya Seneviratne said the government has “decided to temporarily block social media sites including Facebook and Instagram in an effort to curb false news reports”.

Several users in the country reported they could not access Facebook and its photo-sharing service Instagram, Google-owned YouTube and WhatsApp for most part of the day.

Facebook spokesperson Ruchika Budhraja told TechCrunch that “teams from across Facebook have been working to support first responders and law enforcement as well as to identify and remove content which violates its standards”.

Google did not immediately comment.

“It’s a rare but not unprecedented step for a government to block access to widely used sites and services,” said the report.

Sri Lanka has been criticizing Facebook and its platforms for long when it comes to the spread of hate speech.

The island country in March ordered Internet and mobile service providers to temporarily block Facebook and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram as part of a crackdown on online hate speeches.

carbon, digital
Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

“These platforms are banned because they were spreading hate speeches and amplifying them,” government spokesperson Harindra B. Dassanayake was quoted as saying in The New York Times.

The claims are supported by non-profit Freedom House which found “hate speech against minorities continues to foment on various social media platforms, particularly Facebook”.

Last May, a coalition of activists from eight countries, including India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, called on Facebook to put in place a transparent and consistent approach to moderation.

Activists argued that the lack of local moderators a” specifically moderators fluent in the Sinhalese language spoken by the country’s Buddhist majority — had allowed hate speech run wild on the platform.

Also Read- Decide on TikTok by Wednesday, or Ban Ends: SC

The coalition demanded civil rights and political bias audits into Facebook’s role in abetting human rights abuses, spreading misinformation and manipulation of democratic processes in their respective countries.

Sri Lanka temporarily shut down Facebook earlier in 2018 after hate speech spread on the company’s apps resulted in mob violence. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Reportedly Working On A TV Streaming Device

Social-media giant Facebook is reportedly working on a streaming device, like Amazons Fire Stick which would plug into a TV to offer online content

0
Social Media, Facebook, TV, Streaming
Also, Facebook is set to launch an updated version of its video chat device 'Portal' later this year. Pixabay

Social-media giant Facebook is reportedly working on a streaming device, like Amazons Fire Stick which would plug into a TV to offer access to online content.

The new streaming hardware will be part of the company’s Portal family of devices, featuring a camera, combining video chatting with TV viewing and Augmented Reality (AR), variety.com reported on Friday.

The company has recently approached Netflix, Disney and HBO about adding their content to its hardware.

Social Media, Facebook, TV, Streaming
The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

In addition, Facebook is set to launch an updated version of its video chat device ‘Portal’ later this year.

Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Facebook’s AR and Virtual Reality (VR) has also confirmed that the company has a lot more to unveil “later this fall” related to Portal.

ALSO READ: Huawei Planning to Sell Access to its 5G Tech

Portal was launched in November 2018. While the smaller device was priced at $199, the larger “Portal Plus” was made available for $349 with a 10-inch display and 15-inch display, respectively.

The smart camera-enabled device is also powered by Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa and comes with front cameras. (IANS)