Papua New Guinea, a nation of over 8 million, has announced that it will shut down Facebook for a month. The PNG government says that the shutdown will give it time to assess the spread of objectionable content on the site like porn and fake news. The government also said that it’s exploring the creation of its own social media site to replace Facebook.
“The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed,” Communications Minister Sam Basil told PNG’s Post Courier newspaper. “This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly.”
Facebook is already officially blocked in countries like China, Iran, and North Korea, though some users are able to get around the block with technical workarounds like VPNs that route traffic through other countries. China has a sophisticated network of censors policing internet content, so workarounds are increasingly difficult to use.
Basil said that the looming shut down of Facebook is in accordance with Papua New Guinea’s Cyber Crime Act, passed in 2016. But he also floated the idea that his country might work on creating a state-run social network that could be an alternative to Facebook.
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