Censorship of Facebook
Facebook has been replacing traditional media channels since its founding in 2004. Censorship in the media, especially on Facebook, is due to a variety of reasons, since Facebook accepts all kinds of content, with little or no moderation. Because the site indiscriminately displays material posted by users publicly, Facebook effectively can sometimes threaten oppressive governments (especially in totalitarian regimes), while also propelling fake news, hate speech and misinformation, thereby undermining the credibility of online platforms and social media. Many countries have banned or temporarily limited access to the social networking website Facebook, including China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Use of the website has also been restricted in various 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, Syria, and North Korea. However, since most North Korean residents have no access to the Internet, China and Iran are the only countries where access to Facebook is actively restricted in a wholesale manner.
Online censorship by Facebook of algorithmic forms raises concerns including the surveillance of all instant communications and the use of machine learning systems with the potential for errors and biases. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO and majority shareholder, published a memo on censorship. “What should be the limits to what people can express?” he asked. “What content should be distributed and what should be blocked? Who should decide these policies and make enforcement decisions?”
Censorship by country
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.
In China, Facebook was blocked following the July 2009 Ürümqi riots because Xinjiang Independence Terrorists were using Facebook as part of their communications network to organize attacks across the city, and Facebook denied giving the information of the terrorists. Some Chinese users also believed that Facebook would not succeed in China after Google China's problems. 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. However, according to the "Blocked in China" website, Facebook is still blocked as of December 7, 2019. Facebook is not blocked in Hong Kong and Macau, which are special administrative regions operating under different systems. 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.
On 6 July 2020, Facebook announced that the company would stop reviewing requests from Hong Kong for user data while the companies evaluated Hong Kong national security law imposed by the Chinese government.
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. In one instance, 1,600 "guests" attended the 16th birthday party for a girl in Hamburg 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. In another unexpectedly overcrowded event, 41 young people were arrested and at least 16 injured.
In 2013, Facebook revealed Germany had blocked 84 posts from its citizens. These posts contained themes of Holocaust denial, which is illegal there.
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. 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. A law known as NetzDG went into effect starting in 2018 which mandates all websites in Germany, including Facebook, censor such illegal content. A spokesperson for Facebook announced the company's opposition to the law on the grounds that it would lead to overblocking.
In February 2021 Facebook deleted posts and events, imposed 30-day bans on prominent journalists and members of the general public, for posting in solidarity to the 63 year old convict Dimitris Koufodinas who is on hunger strike since the 8th of January 2021. Koufodinas is serving life sentence, after having been convicted as a member of the far-left Revolutionary Organization November 17th (17N), committing 11 murders in that time. He has been demanding to be returned to Korydallos prison for months with a long hunger strike against new repressive laws.
The first time Facebook shared how often it allows governments to censor their citizens' content, they stated India had censored 4,765 posts in their country in the last six months of 2013. Facebook removed these posts in India under the government's claim of unlawful content.
India posed three day ban on Facebook and other social sites during the riots in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh regarding Baba Ram Rahim Singh. Censorship on Facebook increased 19% in 6 months in 2014; India lead the list of content removal in 2014.
Indonesian already familiar with Facebook censorship. It started in 2019 when the government through the ministry of information Rusdiantara made a threat to ban social network. Soon after the agreement made, the first public known about censorship is on the demonstration that campaigned as riots by government, maybe this is the first-ever plot twist used on demonstration using social media.
The latest on 2020, Facebook censored "FPI" post about. The escalation is in December 2020 when there are 6 civilians killed on purported attach by Police. As soon Police made a press release about resistance it doubted by the public as self-defence procedure. Independent analyst showed the public doubt on Police fact statement in social media post interactions. The public issued of human-right offense and extra judicial killing action. NGO's urge government to form independent investigator to observe this issue.
After the 2009 election in Iran, the website was banned because of fears that opposition movements were being organized on the website. 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. 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.
In September 2016, the Cabinet of Israel has said to have agreed with Facebook to remove content that is deemed as incitement. Israel has one of the most openly cooperative relationships with Facebook and the Israeli Justice Ministry boasted that Facebook had removed 95 percent of its requested content. 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.
Ahead of municipal elections in 2018, Israel's National Cyber Directorate has stated that Facebook was banning "thousands" of accounts ahead of the elections. Critics of Israel's 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 the occupation, Israel sees it as encouraging violence. Some believe that the Israeli government and Facebook have an "informal arrangement" for monitoring Facebook content. Jordana Cutler, who previously was the Chief of Staff at the Israel Embassy in Washington DC and a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is Facebook's head of policy in Israel. She claimed that Facebook is merely following suggestions. “We receive requests from the government but are not committed to them,” Cutler said.
In 2015, Nauru permanently blocked sites set up for "abusive content" such as child pornography and would temporarily block some sites like Facebook. Despite controversy surrounding the ban, the President Baron Waqa defended it. In 2018, the ban on Facebook in Nauru was lifted.
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 without special permission from the North Korean government, will be subject to punishment.
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.
On 4 February 2021, access to Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram were restricted on multiple internet providers in Myanmar following the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état. Facebook's usual attempts of not following and challenging the local laws and government lead to the current censorship block. The censorship might remain forever and be replaced by similar social media's which will abide the local laws.
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 Mohammad. The controversial page named “Draw Mohammad 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 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, also resulted in a ban on YouTube and restricted access to other websites, including Wikipedia.
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. 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. Other websites including Twitter, YouTube and Dailymotion were also reportedly blocked by order of the PTA.
In 2014, Russia demanded that all links on Facebook be blocked that supported Russian opposition Aleksei A. Navalny. Facebook users were blocked from any protest supporting Aleksei. This included about ten million Facebook users.
In November 2020, Solomon Islands' Cabinet planned to block access to Facebook in the country in response to a lack of national legislation on internet usage and cybercrime. The motion to block it was started by the prime minister Manasseh Sogavare and communication and civil aviation minister Peter Agovaka. In January 2021, the proposed ban did not go ahead.
In March 2018, Facebook was blocked for 3 days in Sri Lanka due to racial hate speeches being rumored around the country via the social media which caused many riots in the country by extremist groups. However this decision was not permanent.
On April 21, 2019, Facebook was blocked along with other social media sites until April 30, 2019 in Sri Lanka to prevent the false information about Easter Sunday bombings spreading around the country via the social media.
On May 5, 2019, the Sri Lankan government has reimposed a ban on social media platforms in an effort to stop the spread of rumours after violence erupted between groups of civilians in Negombo, north of the capital and site of one of the Easter Sunday bombings. The ban was lifted on May 6, 2019.
On May 13, 2019, the Sri Lankan government temporarily banned social media including Facebook. This measure has been taken owing to the false propaganda carried out by the social media and the unrest which had occurred in several areas. The ban was lifted on May 17, 2019.
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. The restrictions were lifted 68 days later following the introduction of emergency measures outlawing public demonstrations.
The Syrian government explained their ban by claiming the website promoted attacks on authorities. The government also feared Israeli infiltration of Syrian social networks on Facebook. 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. In February 2011, Facebook was un-blocked from all ISP's and the website remains to be accessible.
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.
On 24 August 2020, after being pressured by Thai government, Facebook blocked access in Thailand from people in Thailand to "Royalist Marketplace", a private Monarchy discussion group created by Pavin Chachavalpongpun that has over one million members. In response, Pavin has created a new group immediately and gained more than 500,000 members in one day. A Facebook spokesperson stated, “Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people's ability to express themselves... We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request.”
Facebook was a major part of the political uprisings of the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011.
After photos of Mehmet Selim Kiraz being held at gun point by two terrorists began circulation on social media on April 6, 2015, the Turkish government banned Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and 166 other websites in the country for hours. The government does not tolerate "anti-government propaganda," and their laws are becoming increasingly more strict. In the 2015 Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders, Turkey ranked 149 of 180 countries. Facebook was blocked on 27 February 2020 at 23:30, along with several other social media sites. It happened the day that the military crisis in Idlib escalated.
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. The censorship of the pages coincided with a series of pre-emptive arrests of known activists. 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.
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." The spokesman went on to say that "the Met Police did not ask Facebook to take down this content."
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.
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. In 2018, the government created a huge military unit to block posts containing "wrong views" online. To appease the government, Facebook removed 160 "toxic" accounts for speech against the Communist Party in 2017.
- Censorship by country
- Censorship of Google (disambiguation)
- Censorship of Twitter
- Censorship of Wikipedia
- Censorship of YouTube
- Criticism of Facebook#Censorship controversies
- Internet censorship by country
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