The Sri Lankan government explained that it has imposed a a social media blackout to reduce the risk of dissemination of disinformation and hate speech. Internet Without Borders understands the authorities’ concern, but warns against the risk of a disproportionate and counterproductive interference with freedom of expression.
There is a need to find proportionate solutions that preserve social benefit that social media bring in countries such as Sri Lanka, and public security.
Internet Without Borders’ experience in countries with similar contexts shows that a proactive approach, combining the efforts of the private sector, civil society, and governments, is an effective response to reduce the scope of dangerous content on social media.
“The algorithms that have made disinformation and hate visible on the Internet must reverse the trend.Companies need to collaborate, notably with civil society, on models to present information on their platforms in ways that pose less of a threat to people’s safety” said Julie Owono, executive director of Internet Without Borders.
Disinformation and hatred on social media are scourges that revive ethnic tensions, particularly in the emerging markets of Africa and Asia;however, recourse to partial or total Internet shutdowns is ineffective.Internet Without Borders calls on the Sri Lankan government to reconsider its decision to censor access to social media, and urges the private sector to redouble its efforts against hatred and misinformation, particularly in countries with difficult contexts.