Facebook removed blasphemous content on Pakistan's request

The court adjourned the hearing till March 31 and ordered concerned departments of the government to submit a report.

Published: 27th March 2017 02:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2017 04:46 PM   |  A+A-

Facebook. (File Photo | Reuters)

Facebook. (File Photo | Reuters)

ISLAMABAD: Facebook has removed about 85 per cent blasphemous material at the request of Pakistan, the government today informed a top court. Interior Secretary Arif Khan in a report to the Islamabad High Court said that Facebook has taken Pakistan's request positively and is blocking blasphemous content on the social networking site.

The High Court was hearing a case about the prevalence of sacrilegious contents on social media. The court earlier ordered the government to take action against anti-Islam content. "Facebook is already complying and has taken down about 85 per cent contents we pointed out. Banning Facebook is not the solution," he said. He further informed the court that the Federal Investigation Agency has arrested three suspects for their alleged involvement in publishing blasphemous content on social media.

Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Ismael Shah said a team of 25 professionals were active against online blasphemous content and so far 40 such pages were blocked. He said the Facebook administration has realised the issue and "assured to comply with our demand". "Facebook agreeing to our demands is a big achievement," Shah said. The judge Shaukat Siddiqui praised government for hosting a meeting of 27 Muslim countries last week to address the issue of online blasphemy.

However, he expressed anger that Pakistan failed to summon the ambassadors of the countries from where the blasphemous material was uploaded. The interior secretary informed the court that it was complex issue due to local laws of each country but Pakistan's embassy in Washington was in touch with the US government on the issue.

The court adjourned the hearing till March 31 and ordered concerned departments of the government to submit a report. The government had approached Facebook earlier this month regarding access to the records of three controversial pages accused of spreading blasphemous content. Facebook in its reply had said it is aware of the government's reservations and that it wants to resolve the issue via bilateral dialogue and mutual understanding. Facebook management had also decided to send a delegation to Pakistan for investigating content which the government considers to be blasphemous, Dawn reported.

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