Features that make Facebook so useful for spreading information have also made it potentially dangerous
The Sri Lankan government’s decision to block all social media sites in the wake of Sunday’s deadly attacks is emblematic of just how much US-based technology companies’ failure to rein in misinformation, extremism and incitement to violence has come to outweigh the claimed benefits of social media.
Sri Lanka’s government moved to block Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – all owned by Facebook – on Sunday out of concern that “false news reports … spreading through social media” could lead to violence. The services will be suspended until investigations into the blasts that killed more than 200 people are concluded, the government said. Non-Facebook social media services including YouTube and Viber have also been suspended, but Facebook and WhatsApp are the dominant platforms in the country.