Papua New Guinea bans Facebook

The Government of Papua New Guinea is seeking to crackdown on fake accounts and pornography.
The Government of Papua New Guinea is seeking to crackdown on fake accounts and pornography. Photo credit: Getty

The government of Papua New Guinea plans to shut down Facebook for a month to crack down on "fake users" and study the effects of the platform on the population. 

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where it was revealed that the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users had been leaked to a private company, Papua New Guinea's communication minister Sam Basil has expressed concerns about the social media giant. 

By shutting down Facebook for a month, Mr Basil told the Post Courier newspaper that the Government will be able to carry out research and analysis on who is using Facebook and how they are using it. By doing so, Mr Basil hopes to increase wellbeing and improve security. 

"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," he told the paper. 

The minister has been monitoring the US Senate hearing on Facebook to ascertain whether the company failed to protect the privacy of its users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, website Loop reported. 

He said last month the government of Papua New Guinea "never really had the chance to ascertain the advantages or disadvantages, and even educate and provide guidance on use of social networks like Facebook to PNG [Papua New Guinea] users".

The minister has suggested that Papua New Guinea gets its own social media platform if Facebook is found to be unsafe. 

"If need be, we can gather our local applications developers to create a site that is more conducive for Papua New Guineans to communicate within the country and abroad as well," said Mr Basil. 

The PNG government's research and analysis will include investigating how other countries have responded to the data breach revelations, and explore possible regulations PNG could put in place to protect citizens. 

The investigation will also take into account the effects Facebook has on "time consumption and productivity of users - especially school-aged children and employees, and of course the wider issue of cyber security and cybercrime," the minister said.