Sri Lanka restricted access to social media following a terror attack that left more than 200 people dead and at least 450 injured. Eight bombs exploded in three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.
According to The New York Times, restricted sites include Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber, and YouTube.
“This was a unilateral decision,” presidential adviser Harindra Dassanayake told the Times, explaining officials worried that the spread of misinformation and hate speech could incite violence.
The move isn’t a first for the country — in 2018, Sri Lankan officials blocked access to social media when viral posts on Facebook called for violent attacks against Muslim communities, provoking riots. The New York Times report notes that Facebook did not respond to the government’s request for better content moderation until it cut off the social network entirely.
Other countries struggle with viral, violent misinformation on social media as well and resort to similar measures — India restricted access to Facebook in 2012 in wake of rioting, and in 2019, rumors on WhatsApp were linked to multiple attacks.
Sri Lankan officials have not yet announced when the government will restore access to social media again.