Have you ever wondered that your news feeds are missing in your Facebook Timeline? Do you know this, now facebook determines what you can and cannot see on your timeline? Has Facebook compromised with government agencies to censor the free speech on social media? The reports certainly suggest it has.
Facebook has released its second global government transparency report on Friday covering the period between July 2013 to December 2013. In its first report Facebook has revealed how often government has requested for user data but for the first time Facebook has revealed how often the countries have requested or had the content removed from Facebook in the name of violating the local laws.
India as a country has reached a milestone of 100 million monthly active Facebook users and Indian Government has registered about 4,765 censorship requests for the timeline feeds it considered anti-India, just in the span of July-December 2013. Facebook says majority of the request was based on criticism pertaining to religion or the state, both of which are major issues in India. People around the world have to abide to their local freedom of speech laws even on social networking sites. In case of India any content that specifies constitute religious blasphemy would be removed from Facebook as they need to abide to the local law of the country. But 4,765 censor requests in 5 months is rather annoying and makes an individual to think that to what extent government is letting Indians to enjoy their fundamental law enshrined in the Constitution of India the Right to speech.
India stands in first place in requesting for the restriction of content where as Turkey and Pakistan scores 2nd and 3rd place. Facebook has declined to comment on how often they oblige these kind of requests from Governments but added-“Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share, and to make the world more open and connected,” Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, also added- “Sometimes, the laws of a country interfere with that mission, by limiting what can be shared there.” If a country’s complaint is proven valid given local laws—Facebook’s next report may reveal how many times requests are denied—then Facebook removes the content for users only in that region.
Censorship is not only for Facebook,even Twitter has faced its own share too. Between July to December Twitter has withheld 191 Tweets which it considered offensive.
Its not an easy task for Facebook and Twitter to maintain equilibrium between their site users and the local government. In a way its good that they abide local laws of the countries. Their step towards releasing the transparency report is much appreciated, but are they revising their guidelines to protect their site users from unfair censorship?
This article is written by Knitha Urs, you can reach her @knithaurs