Facebook, the largest social networking site, has published its semi-annual Transparency Report, which ranks Pakistan second among the countries that sent the most requests to Facebook regarding ban content.
According to the report, between July 2019 and December 2019, Facebook received 82,615 requests worldwide to ban content on its platforms, Facebook and Instagram.
Out of the 2900 applications received, Pakistan is second on the list with 2970 applications, and Mexico is third with 2219 applications.
“When we process a request from a country, it is about banning content based on local law,” according to a statement of Facebook.
Content that is illegal in some country or region is banned. But if a certain content is banned in several countries, we independently count each country’s ban in our report.
‘Government requests Facebook to ban content in Pakistan’
According to statistics, the highest number of requests for removal of Facebook and Instagram content in Pakistan in the last five years was filed by the government in 2019.
Here government refers to all the agencies that work under the government of Pakistan such as Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and law enforcement agencies, etc.
For the first time in 2013, the government sent requests to Facebook’s management to remove the content, and from July to December 2013, the number of requests was 162.
Then in 2014 this number increased to 1854, in 2015 only 6, 31 in 2016, 478 in 2017, 6400 in 2018 and in 2019 this number suddenly increased to 8000 which so far is the highest as compared to previous governments.
Facebook responded to requests for content that violated Pakistan’s local law, saying “we removed the content at the request of the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunications Authority).”
What type of content is banned?
The Facebook’s administration says that whenever they receive such a complaint, they review the previously published content and take action if it violates the laws of any country.
In 2019, at the request of the Government of Pakistan, most of the posts, photos, profiles and other content in Pakistan were removed from Facebook and Instagram, which allegedly contained blasphemy, anti-judicial content, anti-polio campaign, and defamation of the country. And also separatist material.
According to the Facebook administration, between January 2019 and June 2019, they had complied with 52% of the legal complaints received against Facebook and Instagram users, and between July 2019 and December 2019, they only processed 44% of the received applications regarding content removal.
Facebook also says that in the case of any emergency, law enforcement officials can apply to remove content without having to go through the legal process of applying for content removal.
Depending on the circumstances, Facebook voluntarily responds to requests from law enforcement officials in order to prevent or reduce the risk of bodily harm to someone else or even death.
‘Two major cases regarding content ban in Pakistan’
In January 2019, Facebook received a formal request from PTA stating that under Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA),there are two posts on Facebook which have illegal and obscene material.
Facebook commented on the complaints that “we have come to the conclusion that this content is not only a violation of our community standards but also a violation of Pakistani law, so we have banned this content.“
According to Facebook’s Transparency Report, in December 2017, Facebook received a request from the PTA that there were 23 posts, Facebook patches and profiles that were allegedly blasphemous and against Pakistani law.
Facebook said that when the content was reviewed, five of the 23 items violated Facebook community standards, while the three items were also restricted in Pakistan due to PTA request.
Global review of complaints received by Facebook
According to Facebook’s Transparency Report, the administration received a large number of complaints from Facebook and Instagram users around the world regarding violations of community standards. However, only content that is really against community standards is banned.
According to 2019 statistics, during the month of January to March, Facebook processed about 2.5 million complaints, out of which about 356,000 removed content posts were re-posted.
According to the data from April to June, action was taken against about 28 million complaints, out of which about 955,000 removed materials were re-published.
From July to September, the Facebook administration processed about 33 million complaints and banned content.
However, the content was republished after the appeal of about 81 lakh and 15 thousand users. Similarly, in the month of October-December, about 39 million applications were processed by the administration and the removed content of about 655,000 users was republished.
In the first three months of 2020, from January to March this year, the Facebook administration processed 39.5 million complaints from around the world and returned 613,000 users content after reviewing consumer appeals.
Internet Censorship in many countries has affected Facebook and Instagram services.
According to the Facebook Transparency Report, in 2019, about 20 countries suspended Internet services in most parts of their country.
According to the Facebook’s administration, barriers and restrictions on the Internet are deliberately imposed to limit the ability of people to access the Internet or certain websites and apps.
However, such censorship prevents people from sharing and communicating with their relatives and friends.
At the same time, they are a hindrance to business. While we regularly monitor the availability of our services around the world and report temporary interruptions to the Internet after identifying areas and it also affects the availability of Facebook services.
According to Facebook’s statistics, India is the top country in the world which imposes the most restrictions and bans on the Internet in 2019.
According to Facebook, India has been restricting internet for more than 45 weeks this year, and users in many areas, especially in Indian-administered Kashmir, have been unable to access Facebook due to the disruption.
In 2018, India was still number one in the world and had more than 87 weeks of restrictions on internet access.
Facebook apologizes for violence in Sri Lanka
Facebook has also admitted in another investigative report that its platform has been instrumental in fueling abuse and deadly violence by various groups on Facebook in Sri Lanka in 2018.
“We regret regarding the misuse of our platform.”, the company said in response to the report of Sri Lanka.
Facebook further added: “We acknowledge and apologize for the impact on human rights.“
Admitting its mistake, Facebook added that the platform has hired people who are proficient in the local language to address these issues and better monitor them, as well as using technology that Automatically detects hate speech and prevents it from spreading.
The platform added that they were trying to deepen ties with local civil society groups.