Sri Lanka to lift social media ban

Sri Lanka to lift social media ban

Sri Lanka is likely to lift a ban on social media networks this week, a government minister said on Tuesday, almost a week after blocking access to prevent the spread of communal violence.

At least two people were killed in clashes in early March when Sinhalese Buddhists, angered by a killing of a driver, attacked mosques and Muslim-owned properties in the central Kandy district, a popular tourist destination.

Some of the violence was instigated by postings on Facebook. It initially said the ban would last for three days, but users say the services have remained blocked, indicating that in practice the ban has been extended.

Harin Fernando, the telecommunication minister, told reporters that senior Facebook company officials were expected to visit Sri Lanka on Thursday and the government was likely to lift the ban on both Facebook and Whatsapp access.

“Once we discuss with the Facebook officials on Thursday, the ban is likely to be lifted on Friday,” he said, adding Facebook had been ‘slow’ to address the government’s concerns.

The government said in a separate statement it would lift the ban on Viber from midnight on Tuesday.