Facebook has had some bad press lately.
The popular social networking site got in trouble in recent months for the ever-more-cavalier way it treats users’ privacy. People complain that their data has been unilaterally exposed in ways they never expected when they first signed up for the service, and that privacy settings have devolved into a confusing, hard-to-tweak labyrinth.
Facebook seems to be adjusting its privacy practices in response to the bad publicity. But there’s another lamentable Facebook practice that has, unfortunately, received less sustained attention: Its willingness to shut down a user’s Facebook page solely because somebody else is offended by the viewpoint expressed on that page.
The “somebody else,” in the case I’m referring to, is the government of Pakistan, which banned Facebook because of a page encouraging people to display images of the prophet Muhammad in protest of threats of violence against the show South Park, which had made fun of making threats against people who display images of Muhammad.
“In response to our protest, Facebook has tendered their apology and informed us that all the sacrilegious material has been removed from the URL,” gloated Najibullah Malik, who represents Pakistan’s Orwellian “information technology ministry.”
It’s dangerous to cave in to demands for censorship. The folks at Facebook were faced with the loss of a large market, but they should have let the anti-censorship page remain published and let Facebook users in Pakistan pressure their government to lift the ban.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.