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Facebook gave no pledges despite Sri Lanka claims

ECONOMYNEXT – Tech giant Facebook made no new commitments to filter hate speech on their platform contrary to claims by the Sri Lankan government, official sources said Thursday.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced that he lifted a ban on Facebook after it agreed to remove hate speech posted on its platform.

"My secretary has discussed with officials of Facebook, who have agreed that its platform will not be used for spreading hate speech and inciting violence," Sirisena announced over Twitter which was not targeted for last week’s ban.

However, sources involved in talks between Sirisena’s secretary Austin Fernando and Facebook executives in Colombo Thursday, said the US company did not give any new assurances.

Facebook had merely pointed out that its policies against hate speech and incitement were clearly outlined in its community standards. 

Sirisena did not say what, if any, concrete commitments Facebook had made.

However, the government had previously insisted that it will not unblock access to Facebook unless it agreed to faster reviews of complaints of hate speech posts.

On Wednesday, Facebook said it was responding to Sri Lanka’s concerns over incendiary material.

A state of emergency was declared and internet services suspended entirely in Kandy, the worst-hit central district, for several days last week as authorities sought to disrupt the riots.

Three people were killed and over 20 wounded in the riots which also left more than 200 Muslim-owned businesses and homes destroyed.





Island-wide restrictions on image and video sharing on messaging apps WhatsApp and Viber were lifted on Wednesday. But, some users still had difficulties downloading images on WhatsApp on Thursday. (COLOMBO, March 15, 2018)

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