Pakistan asks Facebook to help fight blasphemy

Students of Islamic seminaries shout slogans during a protest urging the authorities to block social media sites that are spreading blasphemous contents, in Islamabad, Pakistan, 08 March 2017.Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Protests urging authorities to block social media sites spreading blasphemy have been held in Pakistan

Pakistan says it has asked Facebook to help investigate “blasphemous content” posted on the social network by Pakistanis.

Facebook has agreed to send a team to Pakistan to address reservations about content on the social media site, according to the interior ministry.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive and incendiary issue in Pakistan.

Critics say blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty in some cases, are often misused to oppress minorities.

Earlier this week Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif voiced his support for a wide-ranging crackdown on blasphemous content on social media.

In a statement on his party’s official Twitter account, he described blasphemy as an “unpardonable offence”.

‘Should share information’

Then on Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar reasserted Pakistan’s determination to tackle the issue, saying he would take “any steps necessary” to make sure Pakistan’s message gets across.

He said he had asked officials to liaise with the FBI in the US and with social media platforms on a daily basis.

“Facebook and other service providers should share all information about the people behind this blasphemous content with us,” he is quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

In a statement quoted by the AP news agency, Facebook said it viewed government requests with care keeping in mind “the goal of protecting the privacy and rights of our users.

“We disclose information about accounts solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law. A Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or other formal request may be required for international requests, and we include these in our Government Requests Report.”

Facebook has not confirmed whether it will be sending a delegation to Pakistan to address the concerns of the government.

Pakistan has often blocked access to pornographic sites and sites with anti-Islamic content and in 2010 a Pakistani court blocked Facebook after over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Pakistan asks Facebook to help fight blasphemy