The law enforcement agencies have asked the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to block 50 websites and 82 Facebook pages for spreading rumours regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on the subject on Wednesday, Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar said, "We have informed Facebook about it, and asked them to take necessary measures to stop those pages."
When asked about the closure of the 50 websites, the minister told The Business Standard that International Internet Gateways (IIGs) had been asked to shut the sites down.
A senior official of the BTRC, on condition of anonymity, said, "A certain quarter is spreading false and fabricated news regarding government action taken to tackle the pandemic. People are panicking and losing their sense of reason.
"There are many Facebook pages which are spreading misinformation about government action without checking the facts. That is why we need to shut down some pages and websites."
Meanwhile, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has confirmed that one more person has died of Covid-19 in Bangladesh in the last 24 hours. He made the statement on Wednesday during the daily online press briefing in Dhaka.
The country has six reported deaths so far.
Man arrested in Dhaka
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested an alleged hacker in the capital's Jatrabari last night for spreading rumours about the coronavirus pandemic.
The accused has been identified as a college student named Nayamur Rahman alias Nayam. Police have also seized a mobile phone and some other devices from his possession.
"Nayam is a professional hacker. He has hacked several Facebook IDs in the past for money," Khairul Islam, assistant superintendent of CID police, told The Business Standard.
Khairul further said, "On March 23, Nayam hacked a Facebook ID and used it to spread a rumour on March 29. He wrote that at least 29 people had died after being infected with the coronavirus at Sonirakhra area, urging everybody to be careful.
"He also requested people to share the rumour."
A case has been filed against Nayam under the Digital Security Act.
Six fined in Barishal
A mobile court has fined six people Tk25,000 each for allegedly spreading rumours over coronavirus on Facebook and through loudspeakers at mosques in Gournadi upazila of Barishal.
The mobile court, led by Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ishrat Jahan, penalised the persons on Wednesday.
Earlier, police conducted operations from Tuesday night till Wednesday morning and detained the persons from different parts of the upazila, our Barishal correspondent reports.
The people are Al Mamun Sardar, 30, Moazzin at North Bijoypur Badamtola Mosque; Salma Aker, 55, a lecturer at Barthi Degree College; Rafiqul Islam, 33, an assistant teacher at Gournadi Model Government Primary School; ex-military man Sirajul Islam, 45, Dipali Debnath, 33, and Kader Mollah, 21.
Local people said at around 10:30pm on Tuesday, the rumours were propagated simultaneously through loudspeakers in the majority of mosques in the upazila.
They announced that army personnel would spray disinfectants in the area from helicopters from 11pm till 3am. Everyone was asked to stay at home during that time, they added.
They were also told to take clothes hung out to dry inside their homes and to shut all doors and windows of their houses during that time.
They also spread these sorts of rumours by using Facebook.
In response to a query, Gournadi Police Station Officer-in-Charge Golam Sarwar said, "Acting on a tip-off, we conducted operations that night, detained the individuals and handed them over to the mobile court."