Papua New Guinea Will Shut Down Facebook For A Month

The Papua New Guinea government plans to shut down Facebook in the country for a whole month. The government said it plans to use this time to research how its citizens are using Facebook as well as how fake news spreads on the platform.

Banning Facebook

The communication minister, Sam Basil, told the Post Courier newspaper:

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. This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly.

The minister also said last month that because the government has been swept along by IT globalization, it has had no time to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of having its populace use Facebook, nor to provide proper guidance on how to use it.

Basil suggested that Facebook has exposed its citizens’ data to certain vulnerabilities, and not all of them are about privacy or security issues, but also about lowering employees’ productivity. The government is also considering building its own social networking alternative where people can use their real names and interact with locally-built applications.

Criticism Ensues

Some experts have pointed out that it’s strange that PNG is going to stop its people from using Facebook in order to study how they use it. Additionally, the experts worry that the government may plan a long-term ban or to gain the ability to turn the service off on the spot, and it’s now learning how to do it effectively.

Dr. Aim Sinpeng, an expert in digital media and politics from the University of Sydney, said that the most recent statistics show only 12% internet penetration in PNG, which is closely correlated to the use of Facebook. Given that most people don’t have access to the internet, nor Facebook, she believes that the government may be able to get away with it.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal not only hit Facebook’s image and users’ trust, but it seems to have also emboldened some governments to take more drastic measures against it. If the company continues to misstep, we may see new, even bolder actions against the service in other countries, too, in the future.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.
  • stdragon
    LOL. And nothing of value was lost.
  • Kirk1975
    I deleted my Facebook, FB Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp accounts. I have enough "REAL" BS in my life. Who needs imaginary crap on top of it.
  • derekullo
    For proper guidance on how to use facebook;

    If you wouldn't tell your mother what you are about to post ... DON'T POST IT.

    If you wouldn't tell your neighbor what you are about to post ... DON'T POST IT.

    If you wouldn't tell the police what you are about to post ... DON'T POST IT.

    If you wouldn't tell the IRS what you are about to post ... DON'T POST IT.

    That about covers most situations, but feel free to insert any person/group/agency.

    As for the blocking Facebook and then analyzing how its citizens use Facebook I am led to only one conclusion.

    Papua New Guinea is challenging its citizens on how to setup a VPN to access Facebook.

    I'd link some popular VPNs but that might be seen as cheating lol.
  • derekullo
    While reading this I kept wondering why they were making references to .PNG files in the most random places.

    Took a few seconds but it finally clicked lol.
  • alextheblue
    They're also planning on public spankings for anyone caught bypassing the filters. I'm no fan of social media but blocking access is no better than the Chinese controlling their population's net access.
  • Dark Lord of Tech
    USA should shut it down permanently.
  • richardkiyoshi
    Cant people change their DNS server to something like google's to bypass it?
  • stdragon
    21011156 said:
    Cant people change their DNS server to something like google's to bypass it?

    Depends on if the nation blocks the actual IP to the DNS resolver. If so, you'll have to resort to an outside SSL VPN provider.
  • Martell1977
    "as well as how fake news spreads on the platform."

    So will they be blocking CNN and MSNBC to research the same?
  • Tanyac
    Most of people I spoke with that use Facebook haven't heard about Cambridge Analytica, nor the several other PR nightmares and testimonies by Zuckerberg.

    ie. They live in a vacuum completely oblivious to what's going on in the world with the necks permanently bent in the cell phone position. (Forward and looking down).

    I see so many people wandering around malls, on streets and pretty much everywhere with their head buried so deep in their phone they don't even see people around them...

    What a depraved society we have become :(