Blocking social media could do more harm than good for Sri Lanka, journalist warns
'What it does is stop people who want to organize any kind of non-violent gathering,' Meera Selva said
The social media blackout following Sunday's massacre in Sri Lanka won't address problems in the aftermath of the violence, according to senior journalist Meera Selva.
"I do completely understand why people support the ban. I do, however, feel that it is not going to address the problem," she explained to Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current.
"A lot of research shows that these social media bans do not stop violence in societies when they happen. What it does is stop people who want to organize any kind of non-violent gathering from being able to coordinate and mobilize. It doesn't stop the people who are intent on violence."
Following the lethal bomb attacks, the Sri Lankan government announced a temporary ban on all social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The blackout is intended to stem the spread of "false news reports" online, which the government said could further ethnic and religious divisions in the country and lead to more violence.
More than 350 people died as a result of the massacre, which targeted several churches and luxury hotels across the country.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Christians worshipping in three churches and people at three hotels. Sri Lanka's junior defence minister has blamed breakaway members of two obscure local extremist Muslim groups.
To discuss the social media blackout and its merits, Tremonti spoke to:
- Meera Selva, the director of the Journalism Fellowship Programme at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.
- Ashwin Hemmathagama, senior journalist and parliamentary correspondent for the Daily Financial Times, an English-language newspaper published in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
- Paul Barrett, the deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.
Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.
With files from CBC News. Produced by John Chipman, Jessica Linzey and Danielle Carr.