Bangladesh mulls blocking Facebook every midnight ‘for betterment of youth’

BE2C2 Report — The Bangladesh Government is considering blocking Facebook for six hours starting from midnight daily “for the betterment of students and youth”.

According to a World Bank report, the youth comprise one third of the country’s entire population, with 70% of being under the age of 35, making media consumption increasingly skewed towards digital. The report also indicates that 77% of Facebook users are aged between 18 and 34.

The Daily Star newspaper reported today that the South Asian country’s cabinet division has forwarded a letter to its Telecom Ministry saying that overwhelming Facebook usage, specially in the evening through midnight is “affecting the students” and “dimming the working capabilities of the youth.”

Bangladesh has 21 million Facebook users and growing. As of June 2016, the country had Facebook penetration of 13 percent in the overall population. India had 12 percent penetration and Pakistan 14 percent, according to the Internet World Stats.

The digital space of the country is centered on this increasingly tech-savvy youth as data concerning use of social media sites such as Facebook show dominance of the age group 18 – 34 years.

Shyam Sunder Sikder, secretary of the division, acknowledged the receipt of such letter from the cabinet division while talking to The Daily Star.

The telecom division has asked Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s opinion on this issue, he said. “We have to assess whether it would hamper business communications.”

“We received the letter from the Cabinet Division on March 27 with a resolution of last year’s Deputy Commissioners’ conference and immediately sought recommendation from the telecom regulator,” said Sikder.

After the BTRC’s recommendation, the government will take its final decision.

Last month, Bangladesh security czars sought help of the Facebook authorities for curbing militancy at a conference of police chiefs of South Asia and neighboring countries.

Apart from the Facebook officials, some 58 other foreign delegates, including police and law enforcers from 14 countries and high officials of Interpol, IGCI, FBI, ASEANPOL and ICITAP, attended the conference in Dhaka.

The 14 countries were Afghanistan, Australia, Bhutan, Brunei, China, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Bangladesh police also held bilateral meetings with delegates of several countries, including India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, South Korea, China, Brunei and Myanmar. Around 82 percent of the arrested militant suspects were radicalized through social media platforms, a police study in Bangladesh has found, the Daily Star reported.

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