Government Issues Warning on misinformation and abuse of social media

Monday 15 January, 2024

In the wake of the unrest in the Nation’s Capital initiated by widespread misinformation on social media, the government has issued a serious warning – restrain the spread of fake news and misinformation, or face a temporary social media blackout during the SOE period.

Minister for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Hon Timothy Masiu has issued a 10 Day evaluation period to assess online activities to see if citizens will adhere to this.

“We cannot tolerate online platforms becoming breeding grounds for chaos,” said Minister Masiu, highlighting that there were significant evidence of unverified information directly contributing to property destruction and loss of life, particularly during the recent “Black Wednesday” unrest.

Minister Masiu invoked the National Information and Communication Technology Act 2009, granting powers to the ICT Ministry to restrict access to social media platforms. He laid down a 10-day ultimatum: “Clean up your act, or face a shutdown of social media sites and applications for the duration of the State of Emergency.”

This unprecedented move shows the dire consequences of unchecked misinformation. “Discussions on social media that incite violence, destruction, spread of false information or confidential government information, opinions that are wrong or send false information or are hearsay and defamatory will be monitored and legal action taken immediately,” Masiu warned.

National security, public safety, and stability are at stake, he emphasized, “a safe and secure nation requires responsible online behavior, therefore I urge all citizens to work together to bring back normalcy, and I have instructed agencies under my ministry to strengthen monitoring and work with the police cybercrime unit to tackle any online abuses.”

It’s a fight for truth, peace, and the future of PNG Minister Masiu added. Every citizen has a role to play, to critically analyze information, verify sources, and refuse to amplify unverified information and claims.

“Papua New Guinea is a civilized country, and citizens must abide by rules and laws. We have a duty and obligation to ensure we progress to be a better country.”

Minister Masiu stated that he has also consulted with the ICT industry to ensure the safe and secure use of the internet and to work closely with my ministry and the regulator NICTA to ensure a safe and secure internet for our nation.