Banning Facebook: The Solomon Islands’ Efforts To Curb Cyberbullying

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By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

The Solomon Islands is an island nation in Oceania where the government has taken the decision of banning Facebook. Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister, has declared that this strict measure is being taken in order to protect the citizens from cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is rampant in the country and has destroyed many reputations and lives.

This decision of ban has raised a storm of conflicting opinions from renowned people and the general masses.

Banning Facebook: For or Against?

Needless to say, the critics and activists worldwide have criticized the government of the Solomon Islands, alleging it as a move to suppress the voice of opposition.

Sogavare’s government took this call after constant cyberbullying and defamation faced by many officials. Although they have not provided any details regarding the duration of the ban nor the nature of it.

Peter Kenilorea, MP and chairman of the committee of foreign relations, has said that banning Facebook is a bold and open attack on the freedom of speech.

Despite severe criticism, the Cabinet of Solomon Islands government has approved of banning Facebook in the previous week citing the reasons for the usage of expletives against the PM and Ministers. Peter Agovaka, minister of civil, communication, and aviation, has stated that there is also widespread defamation and character assassination of top-level government officials.

Agovaka has further added that this decision is intended to protect the youth of the nation from damaging content. Since the country has no law to curb the adverse use of the internet, this decision is necessary and significant.

Read: “Snapchat Dysmorphia”: Teenagers Undergo Plastic Surgery To Look Like Selfie Filters

Kate Schuetze, Pacific Researcher at Amnesty International, has accused this decision as an assault on human rights and unconstitutional. Also, people will no longer be able to access global news and content as quickly. Unfortunately, Solomon Islands will be like tyrannical countries like China, Iran, and North Korea.

Ban In Other Countries

Apart from this announcement of banning Facebook in the Solomon Islands, countries like Fiji, New Guinea, and Samoa are also considering the ban. The Solomon Islands is yet to implement the ban.

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Papua New Guinea had barred the use of Facebook in 2018, May for one month. This was sparked owing to the concern regarding the fake profiles of Facebook users.

Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, had stated that he had been considering the idea of banning Facebook back in July. This came after the rise of offensive comments and manipulative political content directed towards him.

The government of Nauru had banned Facebook from 2015 to 2018 in order to stop unsubstantiated and biased reporting. This was after the government drew international scrutiny owing to their treatment of migrants and refugees as well as charging the opposition member with false criminal offenses.

Additionally, China, Iran, Tajikistan, Pakistan, UAE, and Sri Lanka have banned Facebook as well as Google. They make use of other alternative and useful platform.

As a result, they access these banned sites only after installing VPN.

Read: Study Finds Some Governments Already Using Contact Tracing Apps For Mass Surveillance

Cuba allows Politicians, medical students, and journalists to log in to Facebook from their home network. Other citizens access it from nearby cafes, which have very slow internet speed. Moreover, the internet costs $6 to $10 in Cuba, where the average income of people is $20 and deemed expensive.

Bangladesh and Pakistan have stringent regulations and surveillance on Facebook content.

China uses WeChat that provides numerous services on a single platform.

Image Featured: ymgerman

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