P.M. revisits Facebook ban plan

The constant use of Facebook by "faceless" users to spread "lies" and "defame" innocent members of the public, including high profile Government and business officials, has forced the Government to revisit the idea of banning the social media site in Samoa.

This was confirmed by the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who said he is tired of people abusing the site to spread hate speech, bully others and promote false and defamatory claims against the Government.

Facebook remains the most popular choice of social media site for Samoans. Other platforms growing in popularity are Instagram and Twitter.

But it is Facebook that has gained the Government's attention with Prime Minister Tuilaepa saying they have received numerous complaints from victims of Facebook abuse.

“The suggestion came from members of the public for the government to consider this and we are entertaining the idea, similar to other countries," Tuilaepa said. 

“This is a result of defamation which continues to be a huge problem.

To date the countries that ban facebook include China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea. 

The Prime Minister did not name anyone in particular when he talked about abusing social media but referenced a popular site calLed O.L.P.

“I was accused of killing [the Late] Luagalau among many other issues and serious allegations," Tuilaepa said. 

"But these are not true and yet I have been accused of all these things. This was done to smear my name so people will not vote for me and the Human Rights Protection Party. And these are dirty politics."

Tuilaepa challenged the people doing this to stop hiding behind fake pages and run in the General Election.

This is not the first time the Government has threatened to ban Facebook.

In 2018, the Prime Minister threatened to ban social media platforms from Samoa completely.

He said “gutless anonymous bloggers” had continued to use the freedom social media affords them to abuse Government officials and innocent members of the public.

“The Government will do what it takes to settle this matter once and for all, even if it means banning Facebook," he said.  

“Most governments have banned Facebook, and we have been holding back because of the positive impact of social media.” 

He said the Government has had enough of faceless ghosts who use sites such as Facebook to post defamatory claims against unsuspecting victims.

Tuilaepa said these faceless writers have been posting countless allegations including extra marital affairs, corruption and sensitive details about public figures, their families and their children.

“Because its all based on lies, those affected are government leaders,” he said at the time.  “Those behind the social media posts are driven by the devil, their hearts are filled with hatred and I’m certain they don’t rest at night as they continue to make up fabrications.”

Tuilaepa added that these writers have gone as far as to level allegations against Church Ministers. 

 “If the allegations are true, they would have been published in the Samoa Observer. It then allows us the opportunity to sue them and find out the accuracy of the allegations.”

“Only gutless people would such a thing and make up these stories. Maybe their parents did this as well.”

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