Papua New Guinea is planning to shut down Facebook for an entire month as part of an experiment to prevent systematic abuse of the social network.
Communications Minister Sam Basil said the hiatus would allow the country’s National Research Institute to carry out research into misuse of Facebook.
“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,” Mr Basil told The Post Courier.
“This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly.”
Papua New Guinea would not be the first country to ban Facebook, with China, Iran and North Korea among several countries enforcing restrictions on the social network for the purpose of censorship and greater government control of internet communications.
However, this will be the first time that a country-wide ban is imposed with a fixed timeframe for the purpose of research. A spokesperson for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The country’s blackout of the social network comes as the department attempts to better enforce the Cyber Crime Act that came into force in 2016. The dates of the ban are yet to be determined.
If Facebook is deemed to be incompatible with Papua New Guinea’s cyber crime laws, the government will look at the possibility of creating a brand new social network that will better serve its citizens.
“We cannot allow the abuse of Facebook to continue in the country,” Mr Basil said.
“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.”
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