Yesterday, Bangladesh restored access to Facebook,after banning the site for a week following the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” group controversy. The country has followed in the steps of Pakistan who both banned and reopened access to the site after Facebook decided to censor access to the controversial groups from within Pakistan.
According to AFP, “The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ordered the country’s international Internet gateway providers to unblock the site after the US-based company agreed to remove the offending images and content.” Right now there is under 1 million Facebook users in Bangladesh, a country that has more than 160 million citizens.
Facebook’s decision to censor the groups from Pakistan and Bangladesh for cultural purposes marks a significant milestone for the company which has previously take a firm stand against censoring any content. While it makes sense that Facebook would censor offensive content, in order to focus on growth rather than try to spread philosophical ideals, it’s the first time Facebook has taken such action.
Facebook has sent us the following statement to clarify the rationale for blocking the group from being accessed within Bangladesh. Long story short, posting such content was against the law in Bangladesh and as such Facebook restricted access to the content from within the country. Here’s Facebook’s full statement: “When dealing with user generated content on global websites, there are occasions where content that is illegal in one country is not (or may even be protected) in another. For example, content that denies the Holocaust is illegal in some countries, but that does not mean it should be removed entirely from Facebook. Most companies approach this issue by preventing certain content from being shown to users in the countries where it is illegal and that is our approach as well.”