May 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka Government Information Department announced that certain social media platforms have been blocked as a short term measure to prevent the spread of false information following a tense situation erupted in northwestern coastal town of Chilaw on Sunday.
The Government Information Department said on Monday said WhatsApp, Viber & Facebook social media platforms were blocked temporarily.
This is the third time the government blocked the social media platforms since the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks on churches and hotels.
Sri Lankan police on Sunday imposed a curfew with immediate effect in Chilaw due to a tense situation arose in the town after a dispute started on Facebook.
The Police imposed the curfew Sunday afternoon and announced that it would take effect till 6.00 am Monday. However, as the tense situation has been brought under control, the police had decided to lift the curfew at 4 am Monday.
Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a man was beaten on Sunday according to a Reuters report.
According to the Reuters report a Facebook user had written in Sinhalese "It is difficult to make us cry" and added a local slur against Muslim men.
A Facebook user identified as Hasmar Hameed, whom two locals said was the man later arrested, replied in English: "Dont laugh more 1 day u will cry."
Authorities said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identifying him as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar. Locals in Chilaw, a majority Christian town, said Hasmar's post was interpreted as menacing and an angry crowd beat him.
Reports said tension was brewing since Saturday between the Catholics and Muslims in the Christian dominated town. It has been reported that a mosque and few shops owned by Muslims were attacked by a mob.