Following the terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, the government blocked access to social media sites from within the nation. This was done to stop the spread of “fake news’ both to the people of Sri Lanka as well as to outsiders from within the country.
The government has decided to temporarily block social media sites including Facebook and Instagram.Presidential Secretariat said in a statement that the decision to block social media was taken as false news reports were spreading through social media.The statement added that security forces were conducting comprehensive investigations into the incidents of explosions and that the blockage would be effective until investigations were concluded.
Is this really the right approach? The socialist nation is known for holding a tight rein over information in and out. At times like these, is stifling one of the best forms of communication to keep the people and world apprised of the developing situation one that helps or hurts?
The answer should be obvious, but unfortunately trends in technological policing have leaned away from the proper answer. Communication and sharing of information are integral to keeping situations properly handled. When the flow of information is suppressed, the negative effects greatly outweigh any perceived benefits of fighting “fake news.”
One of the reasons false reports get wings following media or social media blackouts is because the worst elements are able to go unchecked. At some point the governments of the world, even the socialist ones, should give the people more credit than to think any information that is false will instantly be believed indefinitely. We’ve learned plenty over the years about the ways of the internet and the spread of fake news. We don’t need to be protected.
The reality is this: when socialist governments (or any governments for that matter) block the media in any way, it isn’t for the protection of the people. It’s for control of the narrative. Sri Lanka is no exception.