AG reported to be in Australia for meeting with Facebook over online attacks on royals

    Attorney General Linda Folaumoetu’i and two senior government officers are in Australia to meet with Facebook representatives, reliable sources have told Kaniva news.

    The sources said the meeting would discuss the government’s concerns over what have been described as “violent attacks” on the royal family that were carried on Facebook last month.

    The government set up a panel to investigate the attacks which were believed to have been made  by Tongans living in Australia.

    It was originally understood the government would make a decision by the end of last month.

    The Attorney General said last month police were considering laying treason charges against the people responsible.

    “There’s a couple of accounts with Tongan names that have actually shown pictures and comments which may amount to defamation or sedition or treason,” she said, adding that the prime minister and government had also been targeted by some Facebook pages.

    The government announced it was considering banning Facebook in the kingdom.

    Tonga Cable director Paula Piukala said the move was because of the complexity of the legal situation.

    “We cannot hold fake identity responsible,” Piukala said.

    “There’s no law applied to this kind of platform.”

    Piukala said the government had also considered asking Facebook to install backdoors on local servers so the government could monitor accounts.

    “People will be free to write whatever they think and want, but be responsible,” Mr Piukala said.

    USP academic Jope Tarai said banning Facebook would be an over-reaction.

    He said ordinary Facebook users would pay the price for what he called a “heavy handed” response.

    No solution

    Kaniva news has argued against shutting down Facebook.

    In an editorial last month we said that while it was understandable that the government had been outraged by the attacks on the royal family.

    However, shutting down Facebook in Tonga would not solve the problem.

    People with the right software would be able to circumvent the ban and continue to post whatever they wanted on Facebook.

    The main points

    • Attorney General Linda Folaumoetu’i and two senior government officers are in Australia to meet with Facebook representatives, reliable sources have told Kaniva news.
    • The sources said the meeting would discuss the government’s concerns over the attacks on the royal family that were carried on Facebook last month.

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