Pakistan, a country with over 2.3 million Facebook users, has banned the use of Facebook temporarily due to a Facebook group called “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” It’s an issue which clearly highlights the difficulties in managing and monitoring content that isn’t offensive in various cultures. The group’s details states “Hopefully this page will spark seroius debates in international forums.” It’s pretty clear the group of more than 44,000 members has accomplished its goals.
Facebook has a history of allowing controversial groups to develop a presence on the site. From Holocaust denial groups, to groups that call on the death of Obama (found here), Facebook is consistently filled with groups that can be considered offensive by most.
Facebook has erred in the direction of “free speech”, however where that line should be drawn has not been very clear. For a long period of time, Facebook allowed Holocaust denial groups and comments, before the company eventually caved and banned the groups. The extent to which “drawing a Mohammed” can result in massive backlash in Middle Eastern countries is significant.
As the BBC points out, “Publications of similar cartoons in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked angry protests in Muslim countries – five people were killed in Pakistan.” For this latest group, a High Court Justice ordered Facebook to be blocked until May 31st. According to the BCC, the ban was eventually lifted, however it’s pretty clear that tension still exists, given that the group still exists.
Do you think this is similar to Facebook’s Holocaust denial groups?