Papua New Guinea to ban Facebook for a month

Pacific nation says it will shut down the social media site as it identifies phoney accounts and blocks fake news.

File photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a town hall at Facebook''s headquarters in Menlo Park, California
Papua New Guinea said it could develop a local alternative to Facebook [Stephen Lam/Reuters]

Papua New Guinea (PNG) will ban Facebook for a month while the government identifies fake accounts and attempts to block fake news.

Communications Minister Sam Basil said on Wednesday the one-month shutdown would “allow information to be collected” about people using the social media site for nefarious purposes.

Users who upload pornography and defamatory information will be identified and removed from the networking site, he said.

“This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly,” said Basil.

He also said tech experts in PNG were capable of developing a local alternative to Facebook.

“If there need be then 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,” Basil was quoted as saying by local media.


No timeframe was given on the shutdown, although some reports suggested it could coincide with the capital, Port Moresby, hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit later this year.

A spokesperson for Facebook told AFP news agency the US company had reached out to PNG authorities and were “working to address their concerns”.

Bans and blocks

The social network giant has been rocked by revelations that it improperly shared the personal data of 87 million users with British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

It is not the first time a country has either banned or blocked Facebook. 

China blocked the social media platform following the July 2009 Urumqi riots after it was perceived that Xinjiang activists were using Facebook to communicate and plan.

In April 2016, North Korea announced it was blocking access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as the secretive country sought to further control access to outside information.

Iran routinely blocks Facebook during major anti-government protests. 

During the 2011 street protests that brought down the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, authorities in Cairo blocked the site for several days. 

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Togo have recently blocked Facebook following anti-government demonstrations. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies