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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister says Social Media harms and threatens lives of citizens

Papua New Guinea  Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has called on social media platforms to demonstrate their commitment to countries in which they operate, and improve processes to protect vulnerable people in communities.

PM O’Neill made the comments during a week when platforms such as Facebook have received global criticism for their lack of action to prevent intimidation, incitement to violence
and social disharmony.

“The question has been put to me if these social media sites, as well as webpages with
pornography and hate speech, should be blocked from our country,” the Prime Minister said.
“In relation to social media platforms such as Facebook, these provide a lot of benefits to
our people, they keep families and friends connected and are a great tool for businesses.
“But companies like Facebook, and the Internet Service Providers that carry their content,also have to take responsibility for their actions that cause harm to our citizens.

“Families have been broken, people have been killed and injured and businesses ruined.

“This is because these platforms continue to distribute content that would be illegal if it was to appear in mainstream media.

“If a newspaper, radio or television station ran some of the disgusting content, the threats of
violence and the fake news we see on Facebook, they would face the courts.

“But these are multi-billion dollar foreign companies are beyond the reach of our National courts.

“They make revenue in countries like ours, but do not pay a cent in tax, and leave behind a
lot of damage to communities.

“Facebook does not even have a local office in Papua New Guinea, and that is an indication
of how serious they are about making a contribution back into our country, and to properly managing the sensitive issues that we are raising.
“As a responsible Government we must look at every avenue to keep our people safe.

“A total ban on platforms like Facebook is not in the community’s interest, and is not feasible.
“But we will undertake a review of how these platforms operate in our country with immunity from our laws, and their negligence when it comes to public safety.

“When it comes to pornography, or websites containing hate speech or promote illegal
behavior, our relevant Government agencies will step-up their work with the ISPs to block
content and prosecute those who break the laws of the Nation.

“All online content providers must take responsibility for the content that they distribute, and to respect the rights of people to not be threatened or harmed in any way.

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