After the deadly terrorist attack on three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka
on Easter Sunday, the Sri Lankan government shutdown
a variety of social media sites, like Facebook and WhatsApp. The move was meant to curb the spread of false information and prevent any further violence in a country whose 26-year civil war ended about a decade ago.
As a company, Facebook has struggled with moderating content
on its platform. Particularly in South and Southeast Asia, the company failed to control misinformation and hate speech ahead of the Indian election. The company also admitted that it did not do enough to curb the spread of Islamophobic propaganda and content sharing about violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority group in Myanmar that precipitated and furthered the genocide carried out by the government.
Free speech activists, humanitarian leaders, and journalists have questioned when and whether governments should shutdown internet and social media access in the wake of national crises. The practice has become more common over the past eight years, as analysis from AccessNow
shows. In 2011, worldwide there were only 3 cases of governments shutting down or disrupting internet access. In 2018 that number jumped to 188 instances, accounts for an over 6,000 percent increase in the number of government-initiated internet blackouts.