View profile

Papua New Guinea threatens to block Facebook for a month

Revue
 
Programming note: I'm here at the Code Conference in Southern California, where Snap's Evan Spiegel a
 
May 29 · Issue #146 · View online
The Interface
Programming note: I’m here at the Code Conference in Southern California, where Snap’s Evan Spiegel and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg are among tonight’s speakers. I’ll have coverage here tomorrow.
Remember when during the 2016 presidential campaign, when then-Donald Trump said he wanted to shut down Muslim immigration into the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”? The line evolved online into a kind of shorthand for drastic action based on flimsy pretexts, and I thought of the whole hateful episode today when reading about the country of Papua New Guinea. Ministers there would like to shut down Facebook until its country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on, reports Benny Geteng in the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:
FACEBOOK users in the country can expect a month’s shutdown access to the site in PNG in order for the Communications and Information Technology Department to carry out research and analysis of its use.
Communications Minister Sam Basil said that the shutdown would enable the department and National Research Institute to conduct further research on how the social network was being used by users.
“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.
It wouldn’t be the first time a country blocked Facebook in a panic. Sri Lanka temporarily blocked access to the site in March after anti-Muslim hate speech spread on the platform inciting violence.
But this doesn’t look like that kind of ban. The inciting incident here seems to the passage of a “Cyber Crime Act” in 2016, which among other things regulates pornography. I’ve skimmed the act, and it seems relatively straightforward. But ultimately I don’t know enough about the political situation in Papua New Guinea to be able to say how the law was intended, what has changed since it passed, and how blocking Facebook might fit in.
I can say that Papua New Guinea seems rather suspiciously interested in creating a kind of national registry — that it owns — complete with real-name profiles of all its citizens, and presumably a database of everything they say online. You don’t have to know anything about the government of Papua New Guinea to worry about the potential misuses of such a tool.
In any case, I hope a Western outlet puts some boots on the ground in Papua New Guinea soon to tell us more. I have a lot of questions — and I bet you do, too.

Democracy
Facebook’s new political ad system is sweeping up non-campaign posts
Top Egypt court orders temporary YouTube ban over Prophet Mohammad video
Russian Facebook ads sought to inflame Hispanic tensions after Trump election
Europe, not the U.S., is now the most powerful regulator of Silicon Valley
The Next Privacy Battle in Europe Is Over This New Law
What Advertising History Says About the Future of Fake News
Elsewhere
Former Snap Employee Questions Company's Culture and Diversity on Cheddar
Facebook is outgrowing its hometown. Where will it go next?
WhatsApp Is Said to Hasten Payments Push for 200 Million Indians
Launches
Snapchat preps Snapkit platform to bring camera, login to other apps
Imgur adds 30-second video uploads so your GIFs can have soundtracks
Snapchat launches its first Lens that reacts to sound
Takes
Fascism is back. Blame the Internet.
Facebook Can’t Master The Corporate Apology
Favstar Is Shutting Down And We're Losing One Of The Good Parts Of Twitter
And finally ...
Hillary Clinton’s other dream job? To run Facebook.
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? At the Code Conference and want to say hi? casey@theverge.com
Did you enjoy this issue?
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue