NOOSA – The Post-Courier newspaper reports today that the Papua New Guinea government intends prevent access to Facebook for one month for so-called “research purposes”.
Communication minister Sam Basil has established no date for the shutdown, nor has he revealed how he will achieve it.
He has also not stated how the country will cope if access is prevented to the many substantive and legitimate sites that are used for day-to-day commercial, government, personal and emergency transactions in PNG.
Basil said his Communications and Information Technology Department and National Research Institute will conduct “research and analysis” of Facebook’s use, adding that his ministry was trying to enforce the 2016 Cyber Crime Act.
“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 Post-Courier.
“This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly.
“What I’m trying to do is to ensure the law is enforced accordingly where perpetrators can be identified and charged accordingly.
“We cannot allow the abuse of Facebook to continue in the country.
“I will now work closely with the police for them to be properly trained and informed to fully enforce the Cyber Crime Act.”
Indicating that PNG may be contemplating echoing the closed Chinese approach, Basil said: “We can also look at the possibility of creating a new social network site for PNG citizens to use.”
China banned Facebook in 2009, later ousting other Western social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter to establish its own tightly controlled outlets.
The biggest and most popular is WeChat, a blend of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Skype where users get almost everything they need without ever having to leave the platform. It has nearly one billion users.
“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 said.