Papua New Guinea has banned Facebook for a month in a move it says is to root out “fake users” of the social network.
The New Guinean government plans to use the month to research who is using the platform, and how, in an effort to not only find fake Facebook users but also study the effect the website is having on the country’s population.
During the Facebook downtime it hopes to identify users that upload pornographic images and post false and misleading information on the site, and then use that information to filter and remove those users from Facebook, The Guardian reports.
Critics are concerned about why the government thinks a Facebook ban is necessary to do its research. Facebook data can certainly be analyzed without preventing residents from accessing the platform. When Facebook has been banned in other countries, it has been before an election as a way to prevent residents from communicating about that election. It led to an indefinite ban in China.
That said, a ban will only impact a small percentage of PNG’s population. Recent statistics put the area’s internet penetration at just 12%.