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What Portals Need To Learn From Pakistan’s Facebook Block


Updates: The Next Web reports that the ban has been extended to Wikipedia and YouTube.

Earlier today: Yesterday, Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority blocked access to Facebook following a ruling from the Lahore High Court, reports Bloomberg. At the core of the issue is a Facebook group for ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’, asking users to send in caricatures depicting Prophet Mohammed, a practice which is not allowed in Islam, and considered blasphemous by muslims. The issue and the group owe its origin to a controversy around cartoons that had been published by a newspaper in Denmark in 2005, which provoked widespread protests and condemnation in the Islamic world, and counter arguments over freedom of speech. This Facebook group appears to push the agenda of ‘freedom of expression’ into the realm of ‘freedom to offend’. Political correctness gives some people rashes. Following the Facebook block in Pakistan, Turkish hackers have also taken down Drawmohammed.com (via Timothy Thompson). However, there’s a blog active, here.

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But should Facebook have been blocked? We’re not going there: Our take on this is not a moral one – on whether it’s right to block access to offensive content. What you need to know is that as democratic and global platform as the Internet may be, access to content is still governed by the law of where the content is accessed from. You may be violating laws in a country where you have no understanding of its culture or law.

You need to work with governments and lawmakers: they are (we assume) trying to address the issue of public outrage and quieten the mob in the swifted manner possible, while trying to inflict the least amount of damage. And they’re often technologically challenged. The way this block has been implemented mirrors one instituted by India’s CERT-IN body in 2006, where they asked ISPs to block access to specific sites, for example, xyz.blogspot.com. Unable to block access to specific blogspot blogs, ISPs blocked all of it. Facebook groups are no different. Google, you might remember works with governments.

There needs to be a mechanism wherein specific content which a country deems illegal can be blocked without preventing access to the entire portal. As a portal, you need to facilitate that for government bodies. There will even be issues between the anarchy that is the Internet, and the mob-rule that is democracy. If you’re unwilling to abide by the law of that particular country, or the demands of their government, you should be prepared to exit it.

  • Adnanali

    i salute to Lahor High court…
    It should be banned permanently!
    facbook had double standerd
    I have deactivated my facebook Account until facebook take action against “Competition Of Drawing Sketches Of our beloved Prophet MUHAMMAD (Sal’ALLAH’hu’Alaih’e’Wasallam),on 20th May 2010″.

    Regards

    میرا فیس بک میں کوئی اکاونٹ نہیں ہے

  • Ali ghanchi

    We as Muslim condemn facebook and would like to Adress entir Muslim community to condemn facebook and deactivate ur account …this website is social website and not allowed to harm anyone feelings in anyway. If you have respect for other . You will gain respect for yourself. I sincerely request facebook 0perator to look into this matter.

  • Gaurav

    i think people should deactiviate their accounts and not use such services if they find them so offensive.

    but the government banning websites and restricting access is ridiculous. it only heightens the short term desire to access these sites which is contrary to the effect they intend to have. Also this is a restriction on free speech, which is above all other rights.

  • Guest

    Salute to the turkish hackers who took down the drawmohammed.com.
    This is not freedom of speech rather freedom to offend

  • Rohan

    I think west is more extremist than INDIA or Pakistan. No matter how huge differences we both countries have. but v never hit anyones religion. Freedom of speech doesn't mean that u humiliate any person, or u make fun of anyone who is very important for someone. West have no culture, no values, no norms, and this is what they cal FREEDOM of speech. V in INDIA respect our elders, v have values, v have norms, v have a CULTURE. but west don't have these treasures… so they created freedom of speech… and i don't think making fun of anyone or humiliating anyone is freedom of speech. my father or even my old gardener is very respectful to me. i cant even imagine to humiliate then for FREEDOM of speech. this is what we are being taught in our schools.
    I think v the ppl of India and pak are the best in the world. because v have values,norms and the best culture in the world.
    at least in this matter i back pakistani govt. even if pakistani market doesn't matter for facebook, but they have sent a massage to the world.