Sam Basil, the country’s communication minister, said the temporary closure would allow the ministry’s analysts to do analysis and research on people using the website, as well as how they used it. The move was caused by growing concerns with regards to productivity, security, and social well-being.
During the process, information would be collected to detect any Facebook users who post misleading and false information, upload pornographic images, or use fake accounts to hide their identity. Such users and their content would be filtered and deleted. As a result, genuine people using real identities will be the only ones able to access the network and use it responsibly.
PNG’s communication minister has consistently raised concerns regarding the privacy protection of Facebook users in the country. Basil became vocal after the Cambridge Analytica incident, which discovered that a private company had received private data of millions of users from Facebook.
The minister stated that the vulnerabilities and risks of Facebook were more than the possible threat of data breaches. He said Facebook had the potential of acting as an unregulated advertising platform, which would cause cyber-security issues and be a threat to people’s productivity. The most vulnerable groups of people were employees and children.
Additionally, the PNG government said it would determine how other countries were successfully handling such issues. They would also look into how government policies would impact private users of Facebook.
Dr. Aim Sinpeng said the ban raised some troubling questions. He is a renowned professional in politics and digital media from the University of Sydney. Sinpeng said normally Facebook was banned in other countries indefinitely, like in China, or temporarily in the run-up to elections.
Sinpeng added that a one month ban is not sufficient as little can be achieved in such a short time. According to the expert, Facebook analysis can be done without a ban. He finished by saying if the government was concerned with fake news, they could handle the problem without issuing a ban.