Lanka blocks Facebook and Instagram to curb false news reports

PTI, Apr 21, 2019, 7:25 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lankan government Sunday blocked social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to prevent the spread of false news reports after a series of blasts killed 207 people.

The Presidential Secretariat said in a statement that the decision to block social media was taken in reaction to false news reports spreading on social media.

The statement said the security forces were conducting comprehensive investigations into the explosions, and that the social media block would continue until investigations were concluded.

“President @MaithripalaS appealed to the nation to act with utmost restraint and patience, and not to be misled by baseless rumors and false stories,” President Sirisena’s office tweeted.

Meanwhile, Facebook has activated its Crisis Response tool for the blasts, CNN reported.

The feature provides a repository for news about the incident, and allows people to mark themselves safe and search for friends who may have been affected.

Sri Lankan law enforcement have urged the public to stay indoors following the blasts. They asked that bystanders not gather at the explosion sites or outside the hospitals where the injured are being brought, according to government official news portal News.LK.

It also reported that passengers departing from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) will need to be present at the airport at least four hours prior to their departure time, to account for extra security processes.

Sri Lankan Airlines, which is the ground handling agent for all airlines, added that only passengers will be allowed inside the airport terminal.

The airport is located to the north of the capital Colombo, on the outskirts of the city of Negombo, which was the site of at least one bombing today.

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