Facebook Blocks 'Insulting' Pages on Muhammad in Turkey: Report

Josh WolfordSocial Media

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Apparently, Facebook isn't going to fight the free speech battle today.

According to multiple outlets, which cite both state reports and a source inside Facebook, the social network has blocked access to some pages inside Turkey.

The move follows an order from a Turkish court. The pages in question were deemed "insulting" to Muhammed.

Facebook does have a history of saying no to these types of requests. In 2010, Pakistan wound up blacking access to Facebook entirely because the social network refused to censor pages about Mohammed.

Then again, Facebook does comply with governments and removes content all the time.

“We restricted access to a number of pieces of content primarily reported by the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority and Turkish law enforcement officials under local laws, especially law 5651, which covers a range of offenses including defamation of Ataturk and personal rights violation,” said Facebook in its latest Transparency Report.

In just six months, Facebook restricted 1,893 individual pieces of content in Turkey.

For Facebook, it boils down this: either comply with the order or face a country-wide, all-out Facebook ban.

Facebook definitely doesn't want to see its Turkish user base, which totals around 40 million, go dark. Why? Well, here's a thought.

The move is going to get a lot of attention – not only because of the subject matter of the pages (insulting Islam), but also because of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's strong free speech rally cry in the days following the Charlie Hebdo attack. Here's what he had to say:

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. ‪#‎JeSuisCharlie‬

Even having said all that, Facebook blocking content shouldn't surprise you. Facebook is not and will never be a haven for free speech. It's not set up for that.

Image via Peretz Partensky, Wikimedia Commons

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf