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Faceblockistan

Rebecca McKinson writes a blog post More problems in Facebookistan, here last paragraph quite aptly sums up the frustrations of the Muslim community as a whole – she says

This larger context also helps explain the extent to which moderate and cosmopolitan Muslim Facebook users who believe in free speech against censorship were so alienated and upset by the fact that Facebook allowed the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” page – which on the several occasions when I looked at it was full of obscene and gratuitous anti-Muslim hate speech – to stay up for more than a week. It’s well known that Facebook quickly takes down other racist and anti-semitic pages. Yet they allowed a page full of nastiness and hate against the Muslim faith to stay up.

Personally, I too cant stomach the fact that the Facebook administrators continue to deliberately allow such uncontrolled hatred to continue on their websites which is a direct violation of their terms of service, it seems they are keen to prove a point, push the limits of decency and be responsible to engage the world in a deliberate religious war. I continue to condemn the blasphemous cartoons and the hypocrisy of the Mark Zuckerberg but at the same time am fully against a blind outright censorship enforced by the government of Pakistan on the entire domain, if such images are not acceptable under the Constitution of Pakistan then a mere block on the particular pages and other subsequent pages should have been enough.

A more direct approach would have been to lodge a serious diplomatic complaint against the US Government, maybe escalating the protest by expelling one diplomat after another for not respecting the religious feelings of the Muslim residing in Pakistan, create a diplomatic nightmare for the Americans who have a lot at stake in Pakistan, I am very well sure it would have turned quite many heads in Washington, and enough screws to force Mark Zuckerberg reconsider his allegiance to supporting hatred on one aspect of his website while surprising the hatred against the Jews. Such a line of approach would have been from any other self-respecting nation but maybe not Pakistan. While at the same time a muslim in California, wherein lies the legal jurisdiction of Facabook Inc, could have sued Facebook for a some unholy sum of money on hypocrisy and more importantly disrespecting our Prophet (PBUH), literally hurt them where it shall hurt the most, the pocket.

Boycotting facebook or banning it out-rightly only causes a very minor insignificant dent on the financial books of Facebook, a community of 2 million people which accounts for 0.5% of all registered users from Pakistan is chump change for any industry, the only dominant advertisers on the site were local telco’s targeting the Pakistani population which is a small market and had a low cost per click impact on the advertisement revenue. At best a simple guesstimate across all advertisers would run up a tally of not more then $5000 a day revenue for Facebook from Pakistan, which may very well be peanuts as compared to the traffic generated by the much-talked about Draw Mohammed Day fan page, which could easily pull a high CPC or high CPM rate easily offsetting the loss incurred in Pakistan. Any online website loves to delve in a controversy, and facebook stands to profit more so then a mere loss, Facebook owners would smile back at Pakistan to say, thank you for creating the hype and the much needed revenue.

The court hearing in Lahore High Court slated for today 31st May stands at a very precarious situation, I am told by some sources that the Government might plea to remove the ban from facebook, but it could prove to be a risky move as the national sentiment prevalent in Pakistan is to block facebook and any hint of un-banning will prove to be unpopular, may tempt the religious parties to come on the streets in protest against the government. Such violence does not help Pakistan, but it only help create more pressure on the PPP-lead government, which is already straining at the seams under constant pressure from the judiciary. On the flip side the courts could take solace on the fact that Bangladesh enforce a temporary ban could be used as an example to letting the case continue for another month or so since the courts shall go in recess very soon.

As an opponent to the blanket ban [though fully condemning the cartoons and supporting selective banning] , it seems that the courts might leverage this issue to exerting more pressure on PPP &/or Zardari. I could be entirely wrong on this assumption but its worth thinking about. I vehemently oppose anyone who may use this to further their own agendas, be it a religious party [who started the issue in the first place, the government or even the courts. Lets just be very careful in handling this issue and not lead us into more problems compounding to the issues we already have.

I write this at around 4:00 am on the 31st May, with the courts to reopen the facebook petition today again, lets see what comes out of it