The Sri Lankan government’s decision to block all social media sites in the wake of Sunday’s deadly attacks is emblematic of just how much US-based technology companies’ failure to rein in misinformation, extremism and incitement to violence has come to outweigh the claimed benefits of social media. Sri Lanka’s government moved to block Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – all owned by Facebook – on Sunday out of concern that “false news reports … spreading through social media” could lead to violence. The services will be suspended until investigations into the blasts that killed more than 200 people are concluded, the government said. Non-Facebook social media services including YouTube and Viber have also been suspended, but Facebook and WhatsApp are the dominant platforms in the country. For Facebook in particular, Sri Lanka’s decision represents a remarkable comedown from a time, less than three years ago, when Facebook was viewed as “one of the world’s most important emergency response institutions”, as Wired magazine wrote at the time. The social network’s vast global scale, its intricate mapping of social relationships, its algorithmically triggered “safety check” product and its suite of tools enabling the rapid dissemination of information and live video were at the… Read full this story
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