Censorship of Facebook

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Facebook logo

Many countries have interfered with or banned access or didn't allow it for sometime to the social networking website Facebook, including Bangladesh,[1] China (except Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan),[2] Iran,[3] and North Korea.[4] Use of the website has also been restricted in other ways in other countries. As of May 2016, the only countries to ban access around the clock to the social networking site are China, Iran, and North Korea. However, since the vast majority of North Korean residents do not have access to the internet, China and Iran are the only countries where access to Facebook is actively restricted in a wholesale manner.

Censorship by country[edit]


Bangladesh (like Iran, China and North Korea) had banned Facebook before - the Bangladeshi ban operated for a short period of time[when?]. The Awami League-led government of Bangladesh announced a countrywide ban on Facebook and other social-network websites. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (in office from 2009) proposed the establishment of an Internet monitoring committee with the help of Bangladesh's intelligence services. Right-wing political parties and groups in Bangladesh protested against bloggers and others they had considered "blasphemous" at the time of the proposal. Extremists in the country had murdered eight secularists, including atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was fatally stabbed in February 2013. National riots over the country's war-crimes trials resulted in the deaths of 56 people between 19 January 2013 and 2 March 2013.

On 18 November 2015 the same Awami League government banned Facebook again on the eve of the final judgement of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salauddin Kader Chowdhury. Both the politicians and previous minister have been issued a death sentence by the War Criminals Tribunal and the review board of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh has finally given their judgement in favour of the previously given one.

The Bangladesh government lifted the ban on 20 December 2015. Facebook is accessible in Bangladesh as of late 2017.


In China, Facebook was blocked following the July 2009 Ürümqi riots because Xinjiang independence activists were using Facebook as part of their communications network.[5] Some Chinese users also believed that Facebook would not succeed in China after Google China's problems.[6] Renren (formerly Xiaonei) has many features similar to Facebook, and complies with PRC Government regulations regarding content filtering.

As of 20 August 2013, there have been reports of Facebook being partially unblocked in China.[7] However, according to the "Blocked in China" website, Facebook is still blocked.[8] Facebook is not blocked in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Facebook is currently working on a censorship project for China, where a third party would be allowed to regulate on Facebook and control popular stories that come around. This would be a huge attempt on Facebook to get back into China.[9]


Facebook was blocked for a few days in Egypt during the 2011 Egyptian protests.[10]


In July 2011, authorities in Germany began to discuss the prohibition of events organized on Facebook. The decision is based on numerous cases of overcrowding by people who were not originally invited.[11] In one instance, 1,600 "guests" attended the 16th birthday party for a Hamburg girl who accidentally posted the invitation for the event as public. After reports of overcrowding, more than a hundred police were deployed for crowd control. A police officer was injured and eleven participants were arrested for assault, property damage and resistance to authorities.[12] In another unexpectedly overcrowded event, 41 young people were arrested and at least 16 injured.[13]

In 2015, during the European migrant crisis with large numbers of immigrants entering the country unregulated, a broad discussion about the problems of mass immigration and politics of the actual government took place in social media. Early in 2016, a Bertelsmann company called "Arvato" was mandated to erase comments and contents from Facebook.[14] In the summer of 2016, police in fourteen German states began coordinated raids on the residences of individuals who praised the Nazi regime or referred to refugees as "scum" in a private Facebook group.[15] A law known as NetzDG went into effect starting in 2018 which mandates all websites in Germany, including Facebook, censor such illegal content.[16] A spokesperson for Facebook announced the company's opposition to the law on the grounds that it would lead to overblocking.[17]


The Indian government imposed a six-month ban on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites in Kashmir Valley in 2016-17, due to public safety because the Indian government believed social media were being misused by anti-national and anti-social elements backed by Pakistan Army and Pakistan intelligence agencies including Inter-Services Intelligence. The ban was also placed to cut communication between the terrorists, who were countering the efforts made by the Indian Army.

India also posed three day ban on Facebook and other social sites during the riots in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh regarding Baba Ram Rahim Sing. [18] Censorship on Facebook increases 19% in 6 months in 2014; India leads the list of content removal. [19]


After the 2009 election in Iran, the website was banned because of fears that opposition movements were being organized on the website.[3] However, after four years of the blocking of Facebook website, as of September 2013, the blocking of both Twitter and Facebook was thought to have been lifted without notice.[20] Iranians lost unrestricted access to Facebook and Twitter the next day, leaving many people wondering whether the opening was deliberate or the result of some technical glitch.[21]


In September 2016, the Cabinet of Israel has said to have agreed with Facebook to remove content that is deemed as incitement.[22][23][24] This announcement came after top Facebook officials met with the Israeli government to determine which Facebook accounts should be deleted on the grounds that they constituted as incitement. The Israeli interior minister's office has said that they agreed with Facebook representatives to create teams that would figure out how best to monitor and remove "inflammatory content" online. Critics of Israels policies are not happy with this move as they claim this is being used as a way to silence outspoken Palestinian civilians, activists and journalists. The activists argue that when they post material meant to critique alleged occupation, Israel sees it as encouraging violence.[25]

North Korea[edit]

In April 2016, North Korea started blocking Facebook, "a move underscoring its concern with the spread of online information," according to The Associated Press. Anyone who tries to access it, even with special permission from the North Korean government, will be subject to punishment.[4]


Facebook was blocked for a few days in Malaysia during the 2011 Egyptian protests.[10]


The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) of Mauritius, ordered internet service providers of the country to ban Facebook on immediate effect, on the 8 November 2007 because of a fake profile page of the Prime Minister. Access to Facebook was restored on the next day.[26][27][28]


On February 5, 2008, Fouad Mourtada, a citizen of Morocco, was arrested for 43 days due to the alleged creation of a faked Facebook profile of Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco.[29][30]


On May 19, 2010, Lahore High Court ordered Facebook to be blocked. Facebook was blocked until May 31 after a competition page encouraged users to post drawings of Muhammad. The controversial page named “Draw Muhammad Day” had been created by a Facebook user in response to American cartoonist Molly Noris’s protest to the decision of US television channel, Comedy Central to cancel an episode of the popular show “South Park” over its depiction of Mohammed. Noris had however disavowed having declared May 20 “Draw Muhammad Day” and had condemned the effort and issued an apology. The ban, implemented by the PTA, also resulted in a ban on YouTube and restricted access to other websites, including Wikipedia.[citation needed]

On 25 November 2017, the NetBlocks internet shutdown observatory and Digital Rights Foundation collected evidence of nationwide blocking of Facebook alongside other social media services, imposed by the government in response to the violent Tehreek-e-Labaik protests.[31][32][33] The technical investigation found that all major Pakistani fixed-line and mobile service providers were affected by the restrictions, which were lifted by the PTA the next day when protests abated following the resignation of Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid.[34] Other websites including Twitter, YouTube and Dailymotion were also reportedly blocked by order of the PTA.[35]


In 2014, Russia demanded that all links on Facebook be blocked that supported Russian opposition Alexei Navalny. Facebook users were blocked from any protest supporting Alexei.[36]

Sri Lanka[edit]

In March 2018, Facebook was blocked in Sri Lanka due to racial hate speeches being rumored around the country via the social media which has caused many riots in the country by extremist groups. However this decision is not permanent.[37][38]


In December 2018, the Sudanese government blocked Facebook, along with other social media sites, which were being used by anti-government protesters to organize protests against President Omar al-Bashir.[39][40][41] The restrictions were lifted 68 days later following the introduction of emergency measures outlawing public demonstrations.[42][43]


The Syrian government explained their ban by claiming the website promoted attacks on authorities.[44][45] The government also feared Israeli infiltration of Syrian social networks on Facebook.[44] Facebook was also used by Syrian citizens to criticize the government of Syria, as public criticism of the Syrian government used to be punishable by imprisonment.[44] In February 2011, Facebook was un-blocked from all ISP's and the website remains to be accessible.[46]


In November 2012, Tajikistan blocked access to Facebook in response to comments posted online, spreading “mud and slander” about President Emomalii Rahmon and various other officials.[47]


In 2017, Thailand asked Facebook to remove 309 posted items that were said to be illegal by standards of Thailand. However, Facebook only deleted 178 of the items, leaving 131 still on Facebook. Thai authorities stated if they found any illegal content in the remaining 131 posts they would ban all 14.8 million users from Facebook, instead of taking legal action. All posts ended up being removed from Facebook, preventing the shutdown of Facebook in Thailand.[48]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom on April 28, 2011, the day before the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, a number of politically motivated Facebook groups and pages were removed or suspended from the website as part of a nationwide crackdown on political activity. The groups and pages were mostly concerned with opposition to government spending cuts, and many were used to organize demonstrations in a continuation of the 2010 UK student protests.[49][50][51] The censorship of the pages coincided with a series of pre-emptive arrests of known activists.[52] Amongst the arrestees were a communist and socialist, and a few members of a street theater group planning an effigy beheading performance in opposition to the monarchy.[53]

A Facebook spokesman said the pages were disabled as part of a routine sweep because they were created with fake personal profiles, a violation of the company’s term of service. In this case a number of the Facebook personal profile pages represented causes, rather than real people. Facebook "offered to help convert the profiles to pages that are designed to represent companies, groups or causes."[51] The spokesman went on to say that "the Met Police did not ask Facebook to take down this content."[50]

In March 2018, far-right Britain First was removed by Facebook. The pages of the leaders of the party were also taken down following their arrest and incarceration.


Facebook was blocked in Vietnam for two weeks in May 2016 due to protest of dissidents.[54]

Vietnam Facebook users total about 52 million and is a vital tool for their day to day use. However, the government is not accountable to the people which causes abuse of censorship in Vietnam.[55]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bangladesh death sentences lead to Facebook ban, BBC News (November 18, 2015),
  2. ^ "China's Facebook Status: Blocked". ABC News9. July 8, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-07-11.
  3. ^ a b "Facebook Faces Censorship in Iran". American Islamic Congress. August 29, 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "North Korea blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube". The Associated Press. 4 April 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  5. ^ "80 pct of netizens agree China should punish Facebook". The People's Daily Online. July 10, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  6. ^ "Facebook上演戏剧 纸老虎"非死不可"". May 14, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Facebook And Twitter In China!". Headline Asia. South China Morning Post (published 2013-08-19). 2013-08-20. Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  8. ^ "Test If Any Website Is Blocked In China". BlockedInChina.net. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  9. ^ "Off-Campus eResource Access - Paul A. Elsner Library @ Mesa Community College". login.ezp.mesacc.edu. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  10. ^ a b "Facebook reported inaccessible in Egypt". Google/Agence France-Presse. 26 Jan 2011.
  11. ^ "Alemanha: Festas convocadas pelo Facebook são "ameaça à ordem pública"". Ptjornal.com. Archived from the original on September 4, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
    "Alemanha pode proibir festas combinadas pelo Facebook". Destakjornal.com.br. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  12. ^ "Facebook blunder invites 15,000 to teen's 16th birthday party; 100 cops show up, too". LIBR Guides. July 18, 2015. Archived from the original on July 21, 2015.
  13. ^ "Germany aims to break the events through Facebook" (in Spanish). lomejorprogramasparafb.com. March 30, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
    "Facebook users crash 'public' birthday party in Hamburg". dw.com. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  14. ^ "Bertelsmann zensiert Facebook-Postings im Namen der Bundesregierung". NEOPresse – Unabhängige Nachrichten (in German). Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  15. ^ "German police launch first nationwide hate speech raids". The Local. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Germany implements new internet hate speech crackdown". Deutsche Welle. 1 January 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  17. ^ Evans, Patrick (2017-09-18). "Will Germany's new law kill free speech online?". BBC. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  18. ^ "Facebook, Twitter, other social media banned in Kashmir". Al Jazeera. April 26, 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  19. ^ Business Insights (2014). India Digital Review.
  20. ^ "Iran Unblocks Twitter and Facebook". Chris Taylor. Mashable. August 17, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  21. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas (September 17, 2013). "Iran Bars Social Media Again After a Day". The New York Times.
  22. ^ "Facebook and Israel to work to monitor posts that incite violence". The Guardian. 2016-12-09.
  23. ^ "Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments". The Intercept. 2016-12-09.
  24. ^ "Facebook is collaborating with the Israeli government to determine what should be censored". The Intercept. 2017-12-30.
  25. ^ "Palestinian Activists Are Angry About Alleged Facebook Censorship". Huffington Post. 2016-09-29.
  26. ^ "Facebook: A Mauritian tragedy?". Noulakaz. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  27. ^ "Facebook outage in Mauritius – it's been censored!!! | Sometimes life is good..." Pascalg.wordpress.com. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  28. ^ "Maurice censure le site communautaire Facebook". L'express. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 9 Nov 2007.
  29. ^ "Police arrest man for 'villainous' theft of prince's ID on Facebook". CNN. February 7, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  30. ^ "Moroccan held for alleged royal ID theft". The New York Times. February 7, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  31. ^ "DRF and NetBlocks find blanket and nation-wide ban on social media in Pakistan and demand it to be lifted immediately". Digital Rights Foundation. 2017-11-26. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  32. ^ "Activists assail blanket ban on social media". The Nation. 2017-11-27. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  33. ^ "All you need to know about nation-wide internet disruptions during dharna". Samaa TV. 2017-11-27. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  34. ^ "The issue of social media networking". The Nation. 2017-11-26. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  35. ^ "Pakistan suspends TV news channels and social media sites to block protest coverage". ifex. 29 November 2017.
  36. ^ Somin, llya (2014). Facebook should Stop Cooperating with Russian Government Censorship. Washington: WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post.
  37. ^ "Tense situ in Teldeniya over death of assault victim".
  38. ^ Safi, Michael (March 14, 2018). "Sri Lanka accuses Facebook over hate speech after deadly riots". The Guardian. As mobs of hardline Buddhists rioted and lit fires in towns in the central district of Kandy, Facebook, WhatsApp and several other platforms were blocked across the country [...] Both Facebook and WhatsApp remain restricted but the Guardian understands the block on the latter could be lifted by Wednesday evening.
  39. ^ "Social media access restored across Sudan". NetBlocks. 2019-02-26.
  40. ^ "Sudan restricts social media access to counter protest movement". Reuters. 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  41. ^ Sudan has blocked Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to counter anti-govt protests
  42. ^ "Social media access restored across Sudan". NetBlocks. 2019-02-26.
  43. ^ "Sudan's Bashir bans protests in new emergency measures". Reuters. 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  44. ^ a b c Yacoub Oweis, Khaled (November 23, 2007). "Syria blocks Facebook in Internet crackdown". Reuters. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  45. ^ "Syrian gov't blocks use of Facebook". The Jerusalem Post. November 24, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
  46. ^ Tajikistan blocks Facebook access to silence critics, International: Reuters, November 27, 2012
  47. ^ Could it happen again? Remembering Pakistan's Facebook, YouTube ban, International: Dawn, March 27, 2017
  48. ^ "Off-Campus eResource Access - Paul A. Elsner Library @ Mesa Community College". login.ezp.mesacc.edu. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  49. ^ Malik, Shiv (April 29, 2011). "Activists claim purge of Facebook pages". The Guardian. London.
  50. ^ a b "Facebook 'suspends UK activist groups' - Channel 4 News". Channel4.com. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  51. ^ a b Preston, Jennifer (April 29, 2011). "Facebook Deactivates Protest Pages in Britain". The New York Times.
  52. ^ Booth, Robert; Laville, Sandra; Malik, Shiv (April 29, 2011). "Royal wedding: police criticised for pre-emptive strikes against protesters". The Guardian. London.
  53. ^ "Royal wedding: Three held over effigy beheading claims". BBC News. April 29, 2011.
  54. ^ "Facebook blocked in Vietnam over the weekend due to citizen protest". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  55. ^ Khoi, M. How Facebook is damaging freedom of expression in Vietnam.