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Solomon Islands plans ban on Facebook amid criticism of government on platform, reports say

Opposition leader says he cannot ‘see any justification whatsoever’ for move

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 17 November 2020 12:07 GMT
The Solomon Islands is reportedly planning a ban on the social media giant
The Solomon Islands is reportedly planning a ban on the social media giant (AP)

The Solomon Islands is planning on banning residents from using Facebook, according to reports.

The government has faced stark criticism on social media over the roll-out of support during the pandemic and relations with Taiwan.

Peter Shanel Agovaka, the minister for communications, blamed “abusive language” and “character assassination” of his colleagues – including the prime minister - shared on Facebook for the proposed ban, according to the Solomon Times

It comes just days after an Austrian court ruled Facebook had to delete defamatory comments worldwide made about a local politician. 

The Solomon Islands’ government said it would issue a formal statement on its decision over a ban against the social media giant on Tuesday.

A Facebook Inc spokesperson said the company would contact the Solomons government over the issue.

The social media network would reportedly be banned on the archipelgo for an unspecified amount of time under government plans.

Matthew Wale, the Solomons’ opposition leader, said he would oppose the move.

"Politicians are always worried about people having access to information and being able to freely express their views — that really cannot be grounds for proposing a ban," he said.

The opposition politician said he did “not see any justification whatsoever” for such a move.

The government has been heavily criticised on social media over the distribution of economic stimulus funds amid the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of the Pacific nation's decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.

Several countries around the world — including China, Iran and North Korea — have already moved to actively restrict Facebook.

A Facebook Inc spokesperson said: “This move will impact thousands of people in the Solomon Islands who use our services to connect and engage in important discussions across the Pacific.” 

Additional reporting by Reuters

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