We reported earlier this week that a Turkish court had ordered Facebook to take down pages deemed offensive to the prophet of Islam.
According to the BBC, Facebook is complying with that order.
If the social media platform had refused, the court had threatened to block access to the entire site.
It is no secret that Turkey has come down hard on social media, having already temporary blocked access to Twitter and Facebook. In our earlier report, we stated that those reasons were both political and religious.
This latest event comes just two weeks after Mark Zuckerberg stated his stance on the Charlie Hebedo shooting, which included the phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’. It was a passionate reply to the tragic incident that received significant praise and already accusations of hypocrisy have surfaced for Facebook’s actions in Turkey.
However, the political reality is more complicated.
“These companies might be US-based but their users are global – they have to respect local traditions and customs,” said cybersecurity expert Prof Alan Woodward from Surrey University.
“They are obliged to obey the laws of the country – the key is transparency.
“There’s danger in a government censoring what people in a country see, so the people deserve to know if something is being censored.”
Global companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube have to straddle a fine line between offering their services and respecting the laws of the land. Despite calls for freedom from censorship, these companies are also in the business of making a profit. According to the BBC, there are 40 Million Facebook users in Turkey. That is a significant block that Facebook would have lost out on had they refused to comply with the court order. To add, this is not the first time that Facebook has complied with government laws that were deemed by critics to be censorship. However, so soon after the Charlie Hebedo shooting, this incident involving the prophet of Islam again, has generated renewed controversy about the line between ideals and reality.
For now it would seem, Facebook is choosing reality.
What is your take on this? Should Facebook bow to local pressure? Or should censorship be opposed in all aspects? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.