Censorship of Facebook

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Main article: Internet censorship

Several countries have interfered with or banned access to the social networking website Facebook, including Bangladesh,[1] China,[2] Iran,[3] North Korea[4] and Syria.[5] 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, in reality China and Iran are the only countries where access to Facebook is actively restricted in a wholesale manner.

Censorship by country[edit]

Bangladesh[edit]

The Awami League-led government of Bangladesh announced a countrywide ban on Facebook and other social network websites. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed the establishment of an Internet monitoring committee with the help of Bangladesh's intelligence services. Previously the government has been blocking websites. Right-wing political parties and groups in Bangladesh have been protesting bloggers and others they consider "blasphemous"; at the time of the proposal, eight secularists had been murdered by extremists in the country, including atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was fatally stabbed in February 2013. National riots over country's war crimes trials have killed 56 people between 19 January 2013 and 2 March 2013.[6][7][8]

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.

China[edit]

In China, Facebook was blocked following the July 2009 Ürümqi riots[2] because Xinjiang independence activists were using Facebook as part of their communications network.[9] Some Chinese users also believed that Facebook would not succeed in China after Google China's problems.[10] The popular Renren social network (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.[11] But according to the "Blocked in China" website, Facebook is still blocked.[12] It is possible to access Facebook in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.[13]

Egypt[edit]

Facebook was blocked for a few days in Egypt during the 2011 Egyptian protests.[14]

Germany[edit]

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. [15][16] 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.[17] In another unexpectedly overcrowded event, 41 young people were arrested and at least 16 injured.[18]

In 2015, during the refugee 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. In this situation a campaign was started to force Facebook to erase right wing hate speech. Early in 2016, a Bertelsmann company called "Arvato" was mandated to erase comments and contents from Facebook.[19] Rules and procedure for that censorship, as well as the juridical base is not clear at the moment (January 2016).

Iran[edit]

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]

Malaysia[edit]

Facebook was blocked for a few days in Malaysia during the 2011 Egyptian protests.[14]

Mauritius[edit]

The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) of Mauritius, ordered Internet Service Providers(ISPs) 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.[22][23][24]

Morocco[edit]

On February 5, 2008, Fouad Mourtada, a citizen of Morocco, was arrested for the alleged creation of a faked Facebook profile of Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco.[25][26]

North Korea[edit]

From April 2016, North Korea starts to block Facebook, for "move underscoring its concern with the spread of online information". Anyone who tries to access it, even with authorization, will be subject to punishment.[4]

Syria[edit]

The Syrian government explained their ban by claiming the website promoted attacks on authorities.[5][27] The government also feared Israeli infiltration of Syrian social networks on Facebook.[5] 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.[5] In February 2011, Facebook was un-blocked from all ISP's and the website remains to be accessible.

Tajikistan[edit]

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.[28]

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.[29][30][31] The censorship of the pages coincided with a series of pre-emptive arrests of known activists.[32] Amongst the arrestees were a street theater group planning an effigy beheading performance in opposition to the monarchy.[33]

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."[31] The spokesman went on to say that "the Met Police did not ask Facebook to take down this content."[30]

Vietnam[edit]

Facebook was blocked in Vietnam for 2 weekends in May 2016 due to protest of Việt Tân.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bangladesh death sentences lead to Facebook ban, BBC News (November 18, 2015).
  2. ^ a b "China's Facebook Status: Blocked". ABC News9. July 8, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Facebook Faces Censorship in Iran". American Islamic Congress. August 29, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b "North Korea blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTuber". The Associated Press. 4 April 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d Yacoub Oweis, Khaled (November 23, 2007). "Syria blocks Facebook in Internet crackdown". Reuters. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Bangladesh to snoop online in 'blasphemy' crackdown". Agence France Presse. 2013-03-15. 
  7. ^ "Hindu temples, homes under attack across Bangladesh". Agence France Presse. 2013-03-13. 
  8. ^ Agence France Presse (2013-03-02). "Bangladesh students held for murder of anti-Islam blogger". Dawn. Retrieved 2013-03-17. 
  9. ^ "80 pct of netizens agree China should punish Facebook". The People's Daily Online. July 10, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Facebook上演戏剧 纸老虎"非死不可"". May 14, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Facebook And Twitter In China!". Headline Asia. South China Morning Post (published 2013-08-19). 2013-08-20. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  12. ^ "Test If Any Website Is Blocked In China". BlockedInChina.net. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  13. ^ Shanghai free trade zone
  14. ^ a b "Facebook reported inaccessible in Egypt". Google/Agence France-Presse. 26 Jan 2011. 
  15. ^ "Alemanha: Festas convocadas pelo Facebook são "ameaça à ordem pública"". Ptjornal.com. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Alemanha pode proibir festas combinadas pelo Facebook". Destakjornal.com.br. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Facebook blunder invites 15,000 to teen's 16th birthday party; 100 cops show up, too". LIBR Guides. July 18, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Germany aims to break the events through Facebook" (in Spanish). lomejorprogramasparafb.com. March 30, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Bertelsmann zensiert Facebook-Postings im Namen der Bundesregierung". NEOPresse - Unabhängige Nachrichten (in German). Retrieved 2016-01-21. 
  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: A Mauritian tragedy?". Noulakaz. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  23. ^ "Facebook outage in Mauritius – it's been censored!!! | Sometimes life is good…". Pascalg.wordpress.com. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  24. ^ "Maurice censure le site communautaire Facebook". L'express. Retrieved 9 Nov 2007. 
  25. ^ "Police arrest man for 'villainous' theft of prince's ID on Facebook". CNN. February 7, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  26. ^ "Moroccan held for alleged royal ID theft". The New York Times. February 7, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  27. ^ "Syrian gov't blocks use of Facebook". The Jerusalem Post. November 24, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2008. 
  28. ^ Tajikistan blocks Facebook access to silence critics, International: Reuters, November 27, 2012 
  29. ^ Malik, Shiv (April 29, 2011). "Activists claim purge of Facebook pages". The Guardian. London. 
  30. ^ a b "Facebook 'suspends UK activist groups' - Channel 4 News". Channel4.com. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  31. ^ a b Preston, Jennifer (April 29, 2011). "Facebook Deactivates Protest Pages in Britain". The New York Times. 
  32. ^ Booth, Robert; Laville, Sandra; Malik, Shiv (April 29, 2011). "Royal wedding: police criticised for pre-emptive strikes against protesters". The Guardian. London. 
  33. ^ "Royal wedding: Three held over effigy beheading claims". BBC News. April 29, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Facebook blocked in Vietnam over the weekend due to citizen protest". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 30, 2016.