WE CAN’T CONTROL THE DEMONS - TONGA MULLS FACEBOOK BAN AFTER ROYAL SLANDER
Nuku’alofa: Tonga is mulling a Facebook ban, as the Kingdom struggles to contain a torrent of online abuse and threats on the platform directed at the monarchy by pro-government forces.
It’s the latest fallout in an escalating digital war between the pro-democracy camp and those firmly backing Tonga’s constitutional monarchy, which bestows the King with key political assets.
A new set of proposed laws, which will remove some of the King’s powers and place them in the government’s hands, has drawn ire from the royals’ camp, spilling onto combative Facebook pages. Observers say both sides have mobilised thousands of mostly anonymous Facebook accounts to launch attacks on opponents and push political messaging. Tensions escalated this month when a number of violent threats were made toward the King and his daughter, prompting Police Minister Mateni Tapueluelu to tell the state broadcaster he was considering blocking Facebook to quell the unrest.
Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva later confirmed a working group had been given two weeks to find a solution. In Tonga, the Pacific’s last ruling monarchy, criticism of the royal family is shunned publicly, but has long been lobbed behind closed doors.