As of yesterday, the Sri Lankan government has banned Facebook and WhatsApp access, so as to hinder anti-Muslim sentiment and hate campaigns spreading via Social Media. There have been riots near Kandy, with a mob destroying half a muslim city, apparently triggered by the killing of a Buddhist young man.
This is the first time that a state of emergency has been declared by the government since the end of the civil war.
It is pretty strange to be in the country while this is happening. Here on the coast, we do not feel any repercussions (other than the restrictions to social media, which make interactions with people here very difficult). Hopefully, things will calm down over the next few days. The last thing this country needs is more infighting.
If you have been trying to get in touch with me via FB oder WhatsApp, then your communication has not reached me.
Edit: another thought here. This is the third day that facebook etc. have been down. These government actions will provide an interesting case study about the impact of shutting down social media channels on the spreading of incendiary messages. I am sure governments around the world are watching this closely. If you take people’s key communication vehicles away, do you actually curb the momentum of a movement (may it be good or bad) – or do people find other ways to disseminate their agenda?