Facebook to censor Muhammed images in Turkey

The dramatic about-face comes just weeks after Zuckerberg posted an impassioned defense of free speech, saying that Facebook will "never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share."

The dramatic about-face comes just weeks after Zuckerberg posted an impassioned defense of free speech, saying that Facebook will "never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share."

Facebook has reportedly agreed to censor cartoons of Prophet Mohammed just two weeks after its founder defended the right to free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks.

The social network made the decision after Turkish authorities threatened to block the site entirely if it did not remove the images - some of which come from Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The dramatic about-face will be personally embarrassing for Zuckerberg, coming weeks  after he defiantly said: '[Facebook] will never let one country or group dictate what people can share.'

Facebook pages which 'insult' the Prophet Mohammed have been blocked in Turkey following a court order, leading to founder Mark Zuckerberg being blasted online

In a post dated January 8, while Said and Cherif Kouachi were still on the run having shot 12 people dead in Paris, he wrote: 'A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Mohammed that offended him.

'We stood up for this because different voices -- even if they're sometimes offensive -- can make the world a better and more interesting place.

'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.

'Yet as I reflect on yesterday's attack and my own experience with extremism, this is what we all need to reject -- a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone else around 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.

'My thoughts are with the victims, their families, the people of France and the people all over the world who choose to share their views and ideas, even when that takes courage.'

According to the BBC, Facebook has now blocked pages 'that offended the Prophet Mohammed' after getting an order from a court in Ankara, Turkey's capital.

The exact number of pages is unknown, but some of the images on those pages come directly from the pages of Charlie Hebdo - the very images Zuckerberg was defending.

Facebook's founder was branded 'a first rate coward', a 'sorry excuse for a human', and 'a liberal coward' by users after news of the decision became public.

The dramatic about-face comes just weeks after Zuckerberg posted an impassioned defence of free speech, saying that Facebook will 'never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share' 

It is not the first time the website has been accused of double-standards by censoring content on behalf of dictatorial regimes while claiming to stand up for freedom of speech.

In December last year, the site removed a Russian page linked to Alexei Navalny, a well-known critic of Valdimir Putin, after requests from internet regulators.

Facebook has also been accused of censoring dissident groups in Syria and China, as well as campaign groups demanding freedom for Tibet.

It is also the latest crackdown by the hard-line Turkish regime on dissenters.  

Earlier this month, Turkey's president began to press for new legislation which would allow ministers to temporarily ban websites, and force Twitter to block an anonymous whistleblower.

The proposed law would allow ministers to restrict access to websites deemed to threaten lives, public order or rights and freedoms.

The Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) would have to comply within four hours, and then apply for a court order for the ban to be extended beyond 24 hours.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pictured, had previously vowed to 'eradicate' Twitter after allegations of public corruption were published on the site 

Communications minister Lutfu Elvan this week defended the proposal, saying it was needed after Turkey's top court in October annulled previous legislation giving greater powers to ban websites, and saying it would only be used in emergencies.

Last year Turkey came under international criticism for temporary bans on Facebook and Twitter as a corruption scandal unfolded. 

Erdogan vowed to 'eradicate' Twitter after allegations of government corruption were published on the micro-blogging site.

Meanwhile Facebook was briefly banned in Pakistan along with Twitter after the sites refused to remove pictures pertaining to be the Prophet Muhammad.

Facebook did eventually bow to pressure and blocked the images in Pakistan. 

(source)

 

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