The closure, which the government believes would be temporary, underscores the challenges facing the world's most powerful tech companies against propagating misinformation and propaganda after the terrorist attacks. It also raises questions of censorship and the ability of a government to eliminate the world's most popular sites.
When Sri Lanka announced the ban on its official news portal, it named Facebook and Instagram among the blocked websites.
YouTube, Snapchat, and the WhatsApp and Viber messaging apps were also blocked, according to NetBlocks, the Internet monitoring group. Twitter did not seem to be blocked. Twitter is not as common in Sri Lanka as Facebook and WhatsApp. According to Sanjana Hattotuwa
senior researcher at the Center for Political Alternatives in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
A spokesman for Facebook ( FB ) which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, told CNN Business, "We're talking about the government's explanation regarding that People are relying on our services Communicating with their loved ones, and we are committed to maintaining our services and helping the community and the country in this tragic time. "
The spokesman said Facebook has been working to support law enforcement in Sri Lanka and to identify content that violates company standards.
"Years ago, we would consider blocking social media sites after an attack as outrageous censorship, and now we consider it a key duty of care to protect ourselves from it," said Ivan Sigal, Executive Director of Global Voices, an international journalism and digital advocacy group, after the block was announced. "Facebook your house is not okay," he said on Twitter.
Earlier, the Red Cross in Sri Lanka used Twitter
to backtrack the misinformation. "Social media rumors that the Red Cross building was attacked are false and false information," they tweeted, adding, "Please refrain from sharing inauthentic and false information on social media."
Facebook was heavily audited last month as the suspect in the New Zealand terrorist attack streamed live video of the massacre on Facebook. The company did not remove the video until the New Zealand police contacted the company.
Sri Lanka has temporarily blocked Facebook and other platforms in the past year after the government declared that they were incitement to use violence.
Google, the parent company of YouTube, and Snap, owner of Snapchat, did not immediately respond to CNN's request on Sunday to comment.
Earlier Viber published
on his official Twitter account: "We encourage everyone to be responsible and to rely on updates from official and trusted sources."