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Sri Lanka restores Facebook and YouTube access after nine-day blackout

Its government has ended the shutdown

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Sri Lankan government has ended a blackout of social media sites that was imposed after the bombings in the country earlier this month, The New York Times reports.

The shutdown, which started soon after the April 21st Easter attacks, affected major services, including Facebook and YouTube. The government said the ban was necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation following the bombings on churches and hotels. More than 250 people were killed in the attacks, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for.

The decision generated debate about the politics of social media access in an emergency, but the effectiveness of the ban has not been obvious. While not unheard of, a nine-day shutdown is a notable gap in service, according to data on similar blackouts published by Facebook. The country also shut down Facebook and WhatsApp last year for about a week in an effort to stop mob violence.

Despite lifting the ban, the Sri Lankan government, in a statement received by the Times, sounded a note of caution, asking people “to use social media responsibly even though the ban is lifted, due to the prevailing situation in the country.”