President Maithripala Sirisena has given instructions to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka to remove the temporary restriction to access the social media site Facebook with immediate effect.
The President has given this instruction following a detailed assessment of the decisions taken during the meeting between the Secretary to the President and the representatives from Facebook, held at the Presidential Secretariat, today (15).
The Government took steps to restrict access to some social media platforms temporarily during the last few days, in order to curtail the attempts to spread communal violence across the country, misusing the social media in a manner detrimental to the national harmony. This initiative paved the way to contain the situation and the Government is taking steps to allow access to social media while implementing the necessary monitoring and surveillance methods to ensure the public safety.
The Secretary to the President met representatives from Facebook to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka. Facebook conveyed to the Secretary that it does not tolerate hate speech on its platform. Facebook shared its deep commitment to remove hate speech connected to race, ethnicity, national origin, and religious affiliation in the context of the immediate emergency situation in Sri Lanka.
The government will continue to work together with Facebook to prevent hate speech and misuse of the platform. Anyone propagating hate speech on Facebook is liable under Sri Lankan law and prompt action will be taken as per Facebook’s community standards. Both sides will continue to engage extensively to discuss these matters.
The Government extends its regrets over the inconvenience caused to the public due to this temporary restriction to access social media tools.