Papua New Guinea closes Facebook for a month to measure effects on population

The government of Papua New Guinea is going to block Facebook for a month to see what the effect is on the population. Another goal is to detect users who are hiding behind fake accounts.

According to a local newspaper, the Post Courier, the Communications and Information Technology Department is blocking the analysis of Facebook usage. The communications minister has said the lockdown will give the government the opportunity to investigate who is using the platform, how they are using it, and the pros and cons of using Facebook. It is not clear when the blockade will take effect.

The government is increasingly concerned about, for example, the social well-being and productivity of the population. According to the minister, the government can better analyze the positive impact of the lockdown on the population during the blockage of a month. The government is also looking at the possibility of creating its own social medium as an alternative to Facebook, to promote domestic and foreign communication.

The minister states that during the blockade there will be time to collect information so that users with fake accounts can be identified. It also aims to identify and remove users who upload pornographic material or distribute false and misleading information.

According to The Guardian, the minister has expressed concerns about the privacy of the people of Papua New Guinea on more than one occasion, given the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, it is not entirely clear how the government intends to do something with the blockade to promote privacy.

A researcher from the University of Sydney states that Papua New Guinea has an internet penetration of 12 percent and that Facebook use is strongly related to this level of internet access. That means most of the population does not use Facebook.