As news broke Sunday that will multiple blasts in Sri Lanka had killed along with injured hundreds, the country’s officials announced that will social media would likely be blocked to avoid the spread of rumors along with disinformation.
Facebook along with Instagram were among the platforms temporarily shut down, according to the Sri Lankan government news portal. Websites that will track blocked platforms said the ban extended to WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, along with many more.
A statement coming from the Sri Lankan president’s office, posted to the country’s official news website said that will “the decision to block social media was taken as false news reports were spreading through social media.”
“The statement added that will security forces were conducting comprehensive investigations into the incidents of explosions along with that will the blockage would likely be effective until investigations were concluded,” the website said.
Officials made 13 arrests following the bombings by Sunday evening local time, yet did not Discharge names of any suspects at that will time. No group had claimed responsibility for the attack along with no details about the perpetrators have been released by authorities by then.
yet online, there was widespread speculation about the person or group behind the bombings.
News outlets published names of suspects that will had not been verified by officials. One video that will named a man in connection with the bombings, along with showed a photograph, got hundreds of thousands of views across Twitter along with YouTube. Websites that will used years-old photos with incendiary headlines to promote those same names contributed to the spread of unverified information.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of Defense asked reporters to not publicize any potential names of the suspects to avoid inflaming tensions.
Sanjana Hattotuwa, a senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, told BuzzFeed News over email that will a ban on social media could be effective inside the short term, “yet depends on how much they ban or block.” Hattotuwa also confirmed that will both Twitter along with Facebook “are proactively monitoring their respective platforms.”
inside the past, Facebook has been accused of inaction by activists along with academics when its platform was used to incite anti-Muslim violence. Officials were forced to cut off access to the website in 2018 because of the violent content the item helped spread.
In a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News, a Facebook spokesperson said that will teams were “working to support first responders along with law enforcement as well as to identify along with remove content which violates our standards.”
“We are aware of the government’s statement regarding the temporary blocking of social media platforms. People rely on our services to communicate with their loved ones along with we are committed to maintaining our services along with helping the community along with the country during This specific tragic time,” the Facebook spokesperson said.
Twitter did not respond to questions about the social media ban or whether the company is actually taking proactive steps in fighting online disinformation. “We have no comment along with nothing to share,” a spokesperson for the company told BuzzFeed News. YouTube did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Officials have also warned against sowing divisions in following the attacks, which come nearly ten years after a violent, decades-long civil war between the Tamil Tigers, a separatist militant organization, along with the Sri Lankan government. the item’s estimated that will 70,000 people were killed during that will conflict, which ended in 2009. yet the violence inside the country has largely subsided since then.
In a statement, Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera said the attacks are “a diabolical attempt to create racial along with religious tensions in This specific country yet again, thereby pulling the country backwards.” He called on Sri Lankans to unite, along with thwart “This specific heinous attempt to drag our country back into the dark past.”