Facebook blocks Dawn.com post in Pakistan ‘based on local law’ | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Facebook blocks Dawn.com post in Pakistan ‘based on local law’

Pakistan Press Foundation

“Due to legal restrictions in your country, we’ve limited access to your post on Facebook,” the platform shared in an automated message. The post is still accessible via VPN in the country.

The Facebook post blocked from viewership in Pakistan.
The company shared that it has made the content unavailable “based on local law” in an action that is usually taken after requests from state institutions under non-transparent agreements – a fact that media and human rights organisations have criticised in the past.

Facebook did not clarify what law the Dawn.com post had violated, nor did it specify where the request had originated from.

Under fire for privacy concerns, hate speech and its role in ‘influencing’ the American elections, this form of censorship under directions by governments is nothing new for Facebook. The platform, with over 1.9 billion users across the globe, has controversially restricted access to content.

The website’s censorship policies also led to many user accounts being blocked or deleted in 2016 for posts criticising India following the killing of Kashmir’s young ‘freedom fighter’ Burhan Wani.

Under increasing pressure

According to a transparency report issued by Facebook, the Pakistani government sent 1,050 requests for data to Facebook between January and June 2017, compared to only 719 during the same period in the preceding year.

It also said that 177 pieces of content were restricted from viewership in the country on requests forwarded by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for violating “local laws prohibiting blasphemy and condemnation of the country’s independence”.

Facebook had also found itself directly in the line of fire last year when an Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, and then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar had threatened to completely ban the social network if it did not act to remove all blasphemous content on its platform.