A coordinated series of attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka this morning has killed at least 200 people and injured at least 450 more. In response to the attack, the government of Sri Lanka has restricted access to several social networking sites, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube, according to local media and monitoring site Netblocks (via ] The New York Times ).
The site says that the government seems to have blocked Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber and YouTube, and the authorities have issued a curfew in the country. The presidential adviser Harindra Dassanayake told the The New York Times that "this was a unilateral decision," and it was made on the concern that the attacks will unleash additional waves of widespread disinformation, hate speech and violence. It is not immediately clear when the ban will be lifted.
The measure is unprecedented in the country, that last year there were riots fueled by misinformation on Facebook and that temporarily banned the sites.
The measure comes about because Facebook and other social networking platforms have been under scrutiny in recent years for their roles in spreading misinformation and deceit that fuel violence, and the company has admitted that its efforts to contain such problems have not been enough. Places like Myanmar and countries like India have proposed new rules to try to force companies to do more to combat the problem.