Facebook may make prophet page inaccessible in Pakistan

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The Independent Online

Facebook is disappointed at being blocked in Pakistan over a contest that encourages users to post caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed and may make the offending page inaccessible to users there, the social network said late Wednesday.

"We are very disappointed with the Pakistani courts' decision to block Facebook without warning, and suspect our users there feel the same way," Facebook said in a statement to AFP.

"We are analyzing the situation and the legal considerations, and will take appropriate action, which may include making this content inaccessible to users in Pakistan," it said.

Pakistan blocked access to Facebook on a court order over a competition created by a Facebook user who set up a page called "Draw Mohammed Day," inviting people to send in caricatures of the Muslim prophet on May 20.

Islam strictly prohibits depictions of Prophet Mohammed as blasphemous and Muslims around the world staged angry protests over the publication of satirical cartoons of the prophet in European newspapers in 2006.

The statement from the Palo Alto, California-based social network said "we want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others.

"With now more than 400 million users from around the world... we sometimes find people discussing and posting about topics that others may find controversial, inaccurate, or offensive," it said.

"While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting for someone - criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, for example - that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion," it said.

"We strongly believe that Facebook users have the freedom to express their opinions, and we don't typically take down content, groups or pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas."

The statement noted that "Nazi content is illegal in some countries" but said "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," it added.

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