Facebook considers censoring content in Pakistan

Authorities are blocking site in the country because of content they consider derogatory

Facebook said Thursday it may consider making content that is considered objectionable by Pakistan inaccessible to users in the country.

"We are analyzing the situation and the legal considerations, and will take appropriate action, which may include making this content inaccessible to users in Pakistan," Facebook said in an e-mailed statement.

A Pakistani court ordered on Wednesday that Facebook should be blocked because of a page inviting people to draw caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Protestors took to the streets in Pakistan on Wednesday to protest against the Facebook page.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the country's telecommunications regulator, said on Thursday that it was also blocking YouTube because of its "sacrilegious" content, after trying all possible avenues to get the two sites to remove material it considered derogatory.

Though Facebook said it would consider making the content inaccessible in Pakistan, it has reservations.

"We are very disappointed with the Pakistani Courts' decision to block Facebook without warning, and suspect our users there feel the same way," Facebook said in the statement.

YouTube did not respond to a request for comment.

While some kinds of comments and content, such as criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology may be upsetting for someone, that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion, Facebook said.

Facebook said that when dealing with user-generated content on global Web sites, there are occasions where content that is illegal in one country is not, or may even be protected, in another.

Most companies approach this issue by preventing certain content from being shown to users in the countries where it is illegal and that is Facebook's approach as well, it added.

The PTA said earlier on Thursday that it would welcome the authorities at Facebook and YouTube to contact the PTA for resolving the issue to ensure religious harmony and respect.

The Facebook page that triggered Pakistan's anger increased the number of fans on Thursday to about 88,000. The page is called "Everybody draw Mohammed Day!" and features a number of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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