Digital democracy Sri Lanka

BP 97: What Facebook tells us about social cohesion in Sri Lanka

About a quarter of Sri Lankans use social media platforms which have become an important space for key influencers from government, media and ethno-nationalist groups. With the debate increasingly taking place in the virtual space, the spread of misleading information and hate speech has become a significant phenomenon that helps nurture anti-democratic tendencies.

This report provides an analysis of phenomena around three political events: the local government elections, anti-Muslim violence and the constitutional crisis during 2018. The study focuses on analyzing social media data from Facebook to extract evidence and generate narratives on users’ general perception and relationship with politicians as well as on misinformation and hate speech online.

To provide an analysis of how social media influences Sri Lanka’s political discourse, the report

  • Uses sentiment analysis and ‘criticism versus support’ analysis as a method to interpret Facebook users’ comments on politicians’ posts;
  • Analyses the posts of ethno-nationalist groups;
  • Analyses the level of engagement and whether content is misleading or not.

This analysis sheds light on the potential impact of social media usage on Sri Lanka’s social cohesion.


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