Yesterday AllFacebook reported that Pakistan has banned the use of Facebook due to an offensive group called “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” Today, the Pakistani government has continued its attack on social media sites, banning YouTube as well due to “growing sacrilegious content” on the site.
According to the BBC, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority took action, blocking both Facebook and YouTube, after both sites failed to remove “derogatory material” from their sites. The PTA said that as time has passed more and more individuals are using social networks and sites like YouTube and Facebook to launch protests and share derogatory material. They deem this type of content inacceptable, as it is offensive to Muslims, and this is why the sites have been blocked. Access to Flickr and Wikipedia has also been restricted in Pakistan, according to the latest reports.
This is not the first time YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan. The BBC reports that the site was also blocked briefly in 2008 for similar reasons – for carrying material that was offensive to Muslims. It is unclear how effective these bans will be and whether Pakistani citizens will be able to find a way around them. YouTube is “looking into the matter and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible.”
A YouTube spokesperson said, “Because YouTube is a platform for free expression of all sorts, we take great care when we enforce our policies. Content that violates our guidelines is removed as soon as we become aware of it.” However, what is appropriate in one country may not be in another and it can be difficult to remove every piece of offensive content. Everything is offensive to someone, so how do you decide which content gets to stay and which content gets blocked?
What do you think about Pakistan’s tirade on YouTube, Facebook and other social sites? Do you think it is acceptable for a country’s government to decide what online content its constituents have access to?