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Facebook banning or Boycotting?

19 May

According to Dawn (http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-lhc-orders-block-of-facebook-over-caricatures-ss-02) Facebook has been banned and

banned by whom? Lahore High Court.

Why? because some ridiculous  facebook-group was having “Draw Mohammed Day” on 20th of May.

An emotional decision, by High Court. It gives you feeling that said judge don’t understand Web and  surely he/she don’t understand how the social-networking sites work. I don’t think people who have petitioned to ban the site even have tried using the site with rigor . Anyone on Facebook can create any page, although it could be deleted by the Facebook but  I don’t think Facebook will delete this page on Lahore High Court’s order.  So  what will it achieve? will it stop the facebook-user not creating any further such pages?

Lahore High Court cannot ban the freedom of expression. The PTA has already blocked that Group’s page; so one cannot even say that site was promoting hate (PTA’s announcement can be found here). There are hundreds of Muslim users on the Facebook, with hundreds of videos and links, and there must be many group pages directed to Islam.   People share news, arrange fundraisers, arrange parties, share pictures of events, comment and discuss the world. (Although I believe it is colossal  wast of time, especially of mine, but this is not the point here) .

These hundreds of Muslims are also friends of thousands of other non-Muslims, I have seen a Jewish Student discussing his point of view with the Muslims guy, I have seen Indian’s and Pakistani’s commenting on each other links and news-updates, it is soft-community allowing opportunity from people around the world to connect and share.  (even on the “Draw Muhammad”‘s page there is a Muslim guy having discussion trying to explain Islam)

By blocking the site you are blocking all this also.

We need to understand Govt. or Court ordered censorship does not do well in the open societies. Only thing it will create will be high number of people siding with Facebook.  Even I will say that you cannot ban the whole social-network site, if you have objection to one page.  It will news, a big splash in the News Media. Editorials will be written from Gaurdian to NYtimes discussing this decision. Many will just portray, citing this decision, Muslims world to be less tolerant.

Before today a valid response coming, an appeal to Boycott the Facebook on 20th May. Although I am not such big fan of boycotts, it would have been show of power by the users of Facebook telling the Facebook that they are not happy with such pages coming up. Although Facebook does not have clear model of earning, but still large amount of their income is from the advertisements. If thousands of users around the world has stopped using website for one or two days it would have been send them strong message that their user base is not happy.  But now it is govt. sponsored activity. It’s different ball game.

In todays world Censorship backfires; you can decrease the access of your people to those websites, but those websites will not be removed. Whereas the Boycott is a user generated response, it works.

I don’t understand under what law this was banned? Who was representing Facebook? Can they ban any Public Domain website without issuing them notice?

And who are these petitioners, where were they before today? Why they petitioned just one day before the event, leaving no room or time for arguing against or for the ban.

The more interesting part is

“The court has also ordered the foreign ministry to investigate why such a competition is being held,” Azhar Siddique, a representative of the Islamic Lawyers Forum who filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, told Reuters

They don’t even understand the events which led to this so-called competition; My Lord “It was response of censorship”.  By censoring this you will just them more headlines, more attention; enabling others to create other such competition. Foreign Ministry cannot investigate such thing, they need some Social Science and IT related guys to explaining to them them what is going around. Especially the guys who watch South-Park.

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