Vastavam web: Sri Lanka’s government will introduce five-year jail terms for those caught spreading fake news and hate speech on social media, the government said Wednesday, following a surge in online vitriol and disinformation after the Easter suicide attacks. The cabinet of ministers approved a proposal by the acting justice minister, which will also see offenders fined one million rupees (USD 5,715), the government said in a statement.
The move follows repeated government allegations that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp have been used to spread online hate, in a country where ethnic divisions still linger after decades of war.
Sri Lanka shut down internet access in March last year to prevent further violence when anti-Muslim mobs went on the rampage in the island nation’s central region, killing three people and destroying hundreds of homes, shops, vehicles and mosques.
Sri Lankan social networks also saw a surge in fake news after the Easter suicide bombings that left 258 people dead and nearly 500 wounded. A nine-day ban on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp was introduced following the Islamic State-claimed attacks on three churches and three hotels on April 21.