Last week, the Solomon Islands government approved a temporary block of social media website Facebook across the tiny island nation of 650,000, a move that top government officials said would protect people from cyberbullying and online defamation, according to Australian ABC.
By Monday, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare doubled-down on his government’s temporary measure to block the social media website, “as it was a necessity to preserve national unity.” He said Facebook undermines social cohesion.
“Cyberbullying on Facebook is widespread, people have been defamed by users who use fake names, and people’s reputations that have been built up over the years [are destroyed] in a matter of minutes.
“We have [a] duty to cultivate national unity and the happy coexistence of our people … [Facebook] is undermining efforts to unite this country,” he said.
Australian ABC notes the ban has yet to go into effect, though the prospect of the ban has caused an uproar among younger people. Sogavare stands by the new measure, saying it was aimed at protecting the youth from “vile abusive language” and not a way to silence them.
It’s still unclear how the temporary ban will be enforced. The government still needs to determine whether it will use a firewall or utilize some other technique to block Facebook.
The move to ban the social media website comes as reports began to spread on the platform, accusing the government of misappropriating virus pandemic funds for social programs – prompting calls for an audit of the virus pandemic relief program.
This isn’t the first time a Pacific government has mulled over the idea of blocking Facebook – leaders in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Samoa have all considered similar options.
Besides Facebook, governments in Asia are also blocking Pornhub. Thailand’s government banned more than 190 porn sites, including Pornhub, earlier this month, prompting outrage among the younger generation.