The April 2019 Easter Sunday Attacks in Sri Lanka sparked communal violence in the country, again, and the government engaged in another social media block. Our physical presence there meant that multiple media reached out to us, to understand if and how social media was contributing to the violence, and whether blocking these platforms was an effective form of management. Later in the year, Bangladesh cut mobile internet access in Rohingya camps. So we found that Abu, Rohan and Yudhanjaya were quoted repeatedly, in local and international media outlets including Foreign Policy, The Globe Post, The Straits Times and WIRED magazine.
We saw another spike in coverage towards the end of May 2019 when we launched version 3.0 of the AfterAccess Asia report, alongside released of the AfterAccess Sri Lanka findings. Unexpectedly low smartphone and internet use numbers meant that reporters engaged fully with the data, writing in-depth stories on our findings. The then Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Ajith P. Perera, cited the data in multiple opinion pieces published in national newspapers. A science writer Nalaka Gunewardene also published a series of stories based on the data.
In September, when we celebrated our 15th Anniversary, there was more coverage in Sri Lanka. The panel discussion on policies and laws proposed in Sri Lanka at the time was timely and relevant, and we hope it served to stimulate further conversation among decision-makers.