Sri Lanka minister slams Facebook over ‘censorship’

Sri Lanka People’s Party presidential election candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. (Reuters)
Updated 12 November 2019

Sri Lanka minister slams Facebook over ‘censorship’

COLOMBO: A senior Sri Lankan minister accused social media giant Facebook on Monday of censoring comments he made questioning the citizenship of presidential election frontrunner Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

The nationality of Rajapaksa, brother of former strongman president Mahinda, is a key issue ahead of voting Saturday as Sri Lankan law prohibits
dual citizens from holding elected office.

Communications Minister Harin Fernando asked in a Facebook post on his official ministry page Sunday whether Rajapaksa should be allowed to stand, suggesting he was still a US national.

“Is Mr. Rajapaksa legally able to contest at a Presidential election in Sri Lanka?” Fernando asked in the now-deleted post.

“If elected, will he able to take oaths and discharge the duties of the office?“

Gotabhaya became a US citizen in 2003, giving up his Sri Lanka passport after migrating to Los Angeles following a 20-year military career.

BACKGROUND

Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said it would not censor political speech.

He returned to Colombo in 2005, when he says he reclaimed Sri Lankan citizenship and was appointed defense secretary in his brother’s administration.

Gotabhaya insists he renounced US citizenship in May this year.

Fernando said Facebook took down the post from his official ministry page on Sunday, and he repeated the allegations on Twitter while complaining he had been censored.

The same post was still visible on his private Facebook page, however, including a screenshot of what he claimed was Rajapaksa’s US passport.

“American companies shouldn’t interfere on behalf of an American contesting a SL election. I stand by my every word,”
he tweeted.

A Facebook spokesperson said they routinely took down any posts containing personal or confidential information.

“We remove this content whenever we become aware of it,” the company told AFP.

Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said it would not censor political speech.

“I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100 percent true,” he said.

Rajapaksa’s nationality is also the subject of a police investigation, but the next court hearing will only be held after the election.

If he wins the vote he would be immune from prosecution during his term.

Social media has been abuzz with speculation about Rajapaksa’s citizenship, while a copy of a purportedly canceled US passport shown by his lawyers has been challenged as fake.

The US embassy in Colombo has declined to comment on the issue.

Rajapaksa and current housing minister Sajith Premadasa, are the leading candidates in a field of 35 contesting Saturday’s election.


Facebook no longer among Glassdoor’s top 10 workplaces

Updated 11 December 2019

Facebook no longer among Glassdoor’s top 10 workplaces

  • The company received an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5, compared with 4.5 last year
  • Facebook is facing the heat over its handling of user data, misinformation campaigns on the platform
Facebook dropped to the 23rd spot in Glassdoor’s list of “Best Places to Work” in 2020 from the seventh it secured last year, amid heightened regulatory scrutiny of the world’s largest social network.
The company received an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5, compared with 4.5 last year, as employees gave relatively lower ratings for Facebook’s senior leadership and work-life balance.
“High profile projects can be extremely political and can really be dragged down by too many cooks in the kitchen. In a post-Cambridge Analytica world there are huge slowdowns in releasing new features or products ...,” according to one of the employee reviews on Glassdoor.
Facebook is facing the heat over its handling of user data, misinformation campaigns on the platform, as well as its plan for a global cryptocurrency called Libra.
Still, employee sentiment toward Facebook remained largely positive on better compensation and career opportunities, according to the Glassdoor report released late on Tuesday.
Software company HubSpot Inc. topped the 100 best workplaces list, while Alphabet Inc’s Google ranked number 11 and Apple Inc. 84.