Facebook to block pages with images of Prophet Mohammed

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, reacts during an address to a gathering at the Internet.org Summit in New Delhi October 9, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS / ADNAN ABIDI

Following a court ruling in Turkey that ordered the censorship of Facebook pages with the image of the Prophet Mohammed, the social media site has reportedly agreed to block all offending pages, according to a BBC News report.

Had Facebook not complied with the ruling to block the pages, the website would be blocked and thus becomes inaccessible to all users in the country.

Facebook has an existing policy of censoring content that breaks local laws in a country. Based on a transparency report released by Facebook, Turkey has the second highest rate of censorship requests among countries.

Examples of previously censored content include criticism against Turkey, its president, and its founder.

Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert from Surrey University, suggested a possible reason for Facebook's decision.

"These companies might be US-based but their users are global - they have to respect local traditions and customs. They are obliged to obey the laws of the country - the key is transparency.

There's danger in a government censoring what people in a country see, so the people deserve to know if something is being censored," he said, in a BBC News report.

The decision to censor the pages has triggered a backlash against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, who recently championed free speech following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

"Facebook has always been a place where people across the world share their views and ideas. We follow the laws in each country, but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world. I won't let that happen on Facebook. I'm committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence," he said, in a post on his Facebook account.

For now, Facebook is still seeking to find a delicate balance between handling local censorship laws and respecting the right to free speech.


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