Freedom of Speech

September 2, 2010

Recently, Facebook has been the target of a ban by Pakistan after a competition to draw caricatures of Prophet Muhammad offended the Muslims and caused a huge uproar among protesters in Pakistan. The Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to ban the use of Facebook throughout the country. By the next day, the ban had expanded to include YouTube. Such is the seriousness of the issue.

The person behind the offensive competition was Molly Norris, a Seattle-based cartoonist. The offending contest was launched in April in ‘reaction to the decision by the Comedy Central network to edit a portion of its “South Park” television program that was to have depicted the prophet Muhammad in a bear costume.’ (Hill, 2010), and was to have the deadline day declared “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” This caused an even bigger outcry from the public.

Religion is a highly sensitive topic, and certainly the freedom of speech rights of Americans do not apply in this kind of topic. While I don’t agree with what Molly Norris has done, I don’t think that Facebook should be the one to take the blame. Why should Facebook be shut out from the whole of Pakistan for something that one of its users did?

As of February 2010, there were more than 400 million Facebook users, and the numbers are rising. This social network allows people to control their own content. With that many users, there is no way Facebook can monitor each and every one of the postings on it. The responsibility is up to the users. Postings on Facebook should not be taken too personally, After all, if there is something you don’t fancy in there, you always have the freedom to ignore or get away from that site.

Tech News World: Social Networking
by Sidney Hill – May 20, 2010

Mashable – Social Media
by Barb Dybwad – February 2, 2010


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