Concerns about proposed Facebook ban in Tonga over anti-monarchy posts
Concerns were raised in August 2019 when a Facebook ban was proposed by Tonga's government. The measure is one of several recommended by a working group established in response to abuse on Facebook levelled at the King by anonymous users.
The Attorney General, Linda Folaumoetu'i, said Facebook pages were being investigated by the police and the people behind them could face criminal charges, including treason. Some comments are believed to have been made by Tongans living in Australia.
Tonga has around 62,000 Facebook users out of an estimated population of 100,000. It has the only remaining Pacific monarchy, which continues to wield power and influence in society.
An editorial published by Kaniva Tonga news service pointed out that the ban would undermine freedom of expression:
“The decision the Tongan government faces is not an easy one. To simply shut down Facebook would not stop offensive comments being made. [It would], strike a blow against freedom of speech, something that should not come from a democratic government.”
In September 2019, Tonga's Attorney General reportedly visited Australia to meet with representatives of Facebook but a ban has yet to be imposed.
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