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Facebook to go after fake accounts, hateful material.

Facebook Vice President Joel Kaplan recently visited Pakistan and met Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in Islamabad to discuss various steps and actions being taken to remove blasphemous content on the social media website that is considered illegal in Pakistan.

The Facebook official assured the minister to remove from its site fake accounts; explicit, hateful, and provocative material that incites violence and terrorism. He said Facebook, on its part, had reiterated its commitment to keep the platform safe and promote values that are in line with its Community Standards. Some weeks ago, the interior minister had warned to shut down social media networking sites, including Facebook, in Pakistan in case their managements did not remove blasphemous content on the relevant sites.

His remarks had come at a time when the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had directed the interior ministry to take appropriate steps for the removal of blasphemous content on the social media that hurts sentiments of the Muslims.

Later, giving details of the meeting to the media, an interior ministry spokesperson said that this was for the first time that a senior member of Facebook management dealing with Global Public Policy had visited Pakistan to discuss way forward towards addressing the issue of misuse of social media platforms especially Facebook, which has over 33 million users in Pakistan at the moment.

The interior minister, the spokesperson said, had been playing a proactive role in engaging the internet service providers and finding solution to the issue of misuse of social media. This also included convening of a special meeting of the ambassadors of the Muslim-majority countries in March on a single-point agenda to discuss blasphemous content on social media and how to effectively raise voice of the entire Muslim world against the "madness unleashed against Islam and holy personalities in the name of freedom of expression."

This was followed by a meeting of the minister with the OIC secretary general on April 11, 2017 on this issue. The spokesperson said while talking to the Facebook vice president, the interior minister said that the "entire Ummah was greatly disturbed and had serious concerns over the misuse of social media platforms to propagate blasphemous content."

He said that the government of Pakistan firmly believed in freedom of expression but it could not "allow anyone to misuse social media for hurting religious sentiments or undertaking unlawful activities."

We appreciate the understanding shown by the Facebook administration and the cooperation being extended to us on these issues, said the minister.

Nisar also appreciated Facebook for bridging communication gaps and providing people a platform not only to interact but also to serve as a vehicle for promotion of education, businesses, socioeconomic development and empowering women in the country. To further this purpose in Pakistan, Nisar also encouraged Facebook to open up office in Pakistan.

Local offices of service providers would not only help them extend their outreach but would also be instrumental in bringing the government and the service providers further closer to each other and forge a mutually-beneficial partnership, continued the minister. During the meeting, Mr Kaplan highlighted various initiatives of Facebook that are "aimed at skill development and economic growth programmes in Pakistan, working with developers, small businesses and women in the country."

He said that Facebook's Developers Circles --- a free community-led programme for developers to connect, learn and collaborate with other local developers had been started in Lahore and Karachi and would be launched in Islamabad soon.

Lahore is one of the largest Developer Circles in the world with more than 2,000 community members. Kaplan also informed the minister that Facebook had recently launched a digital literacy campaign called iChamp with a goal to touch secondary schools on a mass scale across Pakistan to educate youth on the benefits and safe use of internet. The programme will be supported by Facebook's Free Basic Project that provides free access to dozens of fun and learning websites. Covering 76 districts across all four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, an estimated 600,000 students will be trained. The interior minister appreciated various initiatives of the Facebook and observed that there was a need to further strengthen the collaboration by exploring new avenues of cooperation.
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Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jul 31, 2017
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