As Facebook tries to make its platform safer for all users, an entire nation is temporarily banning the social network as they locate fake accounts.
The Ban Of Facebook
The nation of Papua New Guinea announced that Facebook would be shut down for an entire month. During that month, citizens in Papua New Guinea will not be able to access the social media network.
The government of Papua New Guinea will search the social media network to find and remove fake users. They will also search for false news and taboo photos that should be eliminated. With these changes, officials in Papua New Guinea will facilitate a better digital experience for its citizens.
The minister cited concerns about Facebook's ability to ensure privacy after news broke that Cambridge Analytica harnessed data from many people. The government of Papua New Guinea said that the month off Facebook will allow the PNG National Research Institute to study the impact on the population of the social media network.
Potential Censorship In Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea isn't the only country to temporarily ban Facebook, as Sri Lanka did the same thing a few months ago. However, the alarming part is that Papua New Guinea passed a Cyber Crime Act in 2016. Critics say that the law makes it easier for the government to censor its citizens by removing criticisms online.
"The Act has already been passed, so what I'm trying to do is to ensure the law is enforced accordingly where perpetrators can be identified and charged accordingly," Communication Minister Sam Basil said to the Post Courier. "We cannot allow the abuse of Facebook to continue in the country."
Implications Of The Ban In Papua New Guinea
Basil said that during the Facebook ban, researchers will look at the possibility of creating a new social network just for citizens of Papua New Guinea. This would render Facebook useless in that country.
Digital media expert Dr. Aim Sinpeng from the University of Sydney says that Papua New Guinea doesn't need to ban Facebook in order to study the impact of it or to get rid of fake users. Only about 12 percent of Papua New Guinea's population is on Facebook.
"Politically I think they will be able to get away with the ban because internet penetration is not high, a ban is not viable in countries with 60 to 70 percent penetration," Dr. Aim Sinpeng said to The Guardian. "These issues with Facebook are being spoken about in a number of other countries, so the fact that PNG is on the bandwagon shows how widespread concerns have become."