Namal Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan minister and the eldest son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has urged the government to reconsider the curbs on social media, pointing out that such bans are “completely useless”.
The Sri Lankan government blocked access to all social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube, through an order late on Sunday. It said the decision was taken to stem “misinformation”. The move comes amid massive protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid a crippling economic crisis in the island nation.
I will never condone the blocking of social media. The availability of VPN, just like I’m using now, makes such bans completely useless. I urge the authorities to think more progressively and reconsider this decision. #SocialMediaBanLK#SriLanka#lka
— Namal Rajapaksa (@RajapaksaNamal) April 3, 2022
Namal Rajapaksa, who handles the youth and sports portfolios in the Sri Lanka government and is a nephew of President Rajapaksa, tweeted, “I will never condone the blocking of social media. The availability of VPN, just like I’m using now, makes such bans completely useless. I urge the authorities to think more progressively and reconsider this decision.”
VPN stands for virtual private network and can be used to protect yourself from snooping, access content restricted to some locations and to bypass censorship.
A 36-hour curfew is in place in the country till Monday after people took to the streets to protest against shortage of essential supplies, sharp inflation and power blackouts. The government has declared a state of emergency.
Social media posts had been appealing to people to brave action by security forces and join the protests. “#GoHomeRajapaksas” and “#GotaGoHome” have been trending for days on Twitter and Facebook. Hundreds of people have defied the curfew and gathered at several suburban towns, police and residents said.
Mr Rajapaksa has said the state of emergency was needed to protect public order and maintain essential services.
The ongoing crisis, a result of economic mismanagement by successive governments, has been compounded by the Covid 19 pandemic that hit tourism.