facebook blocked

Ban follows arrest of man over ‘cartoon’ of Hasina, Khaleda; members of popular social network angrily react to govt decision
Regulators yesterday “temporarily” blocked access to Facebook, a popular social networking site.
The decision came after the arrest of a youth for uploading satiric images of some politicians, including the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.
The government did not make any official statement yet, but sources in Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said part of the reason is the posting of some anti-religious and porn links by users across the globe.
“We have blocked all access to Facebook temporarily,” said a high official of BTRC. “It was done in line with a decision of government high-ups.”
In a late-night development, a group of Dhaka University students took to the streets to protest the government’s decision.
In instant reactions to The Daily Star yesterday evening, IT experts criticised the government for the move.
Many Facebookers called The Daily Star yesterday, enquiring about why they could not log on to the site. They dubbed the move radical and said the government should have blocked individual profiles rather than the entire site.
Earlier, the BTRC had directed internet data service handlers Mango Telecom and Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd to find a way to block antisocial contents posted by Facebookers.
But the two companies failed to fix the problem, which prompted the government to block the entire prophet, said the official, asking not to be named.
The BTRC official said some users had posted anti-Islamic content about Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (SM), which the government took seriously. Some users have posted sub-links to pornographic materials, which are not “tolerable”, the official said.
“The access to Facebook will resume when the operators find a way to block such anti-social contents,” said the official.
Three Islamic political parties — Islami Oikya Jote, Islami Andolan and Khelafat Andolan — on Friday demanded an immediate ban on Facebook for a recent campaign by some users inviting people to draw images of the prophet.
In March last year, the government blocked the video sharing website YouTube for hosting a recorded conversation between the prime minister and army officers after the BDR carnage.
More than 10 lakh people use the internet in Bangladesh. Facebook is the most popular social network, especially among the youth.
Pakistan has recently banned Facebook for hosting blasphemous contents. A contest organised by a Facebook user calling on people to draw the prophet raised protests in Pakistan.
RAB ARRESTS YOUTH
Rab yesterday arrested Mahbub Alam Rodin, 30, a resident of Wari in the capital on charges of uploading satiric images of some political leaders on Facebook.
Commander Mohammad Sohail, director of Rab’s legal and media wing, said Rodin’s Facebook activity over the last one year was offensive.
Rab quoted Rodin as saying he uploaded obscene images and did this as his pastime.
Rab has so far blocked seven Facebook accounts of Rodin, which he opened with email addresses and fake particulars, the Rab official said.
Rodin also used several pseudonyms: Brigadier Mahadi, Sepahi Mahadi, Imam Hossain, Rodin Al, Mohammad Al Mahadi and Junaida Khandaker Zihan, according to the official.
Sohail said Rodin, jobless, did not continue studies after college. According to the official, during interrogation, Rodin said he possesses two passports.
REACTION
Educationist Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury said the blocking of Facebook is by no means beneficial. “Information should be free flowing. When that is hampered, people would only find more interest in finding ways to bypass it.”
Talking about the offensive contents on Facebook, he said, “These [activities] cannot be stopped by blocking Facebook. Many more websites need to be banned as well.”
IT expert Mustafa Jabbar said the internet has become an uncontrollable medium but blocking the entire site is no solution to the problem.
“I don’t support it. Restricting us from being in touch with the world is like making us live like ostriches with their heads buried in the sand,” he said.
“It is not a good move. A better step would be to take legal action against individual offenders.”
Jabbar said the government did it because someone posted cartoons of the VIPs. “But many people including girls are being abused in Facebook every day. Would they have done the same for them or me? You cannot block an entire population for some wrongs done by one or two individuals.”
He stressed stronger and all-inclusive cyber-crime laws so that people can go to law enforcers when they are being harassed on the internet, not just on Facebook.
Monjur Morshed Khan, a university student and Facebook user, said: “Blocking the entire site is too much.”
Nazibuddin Ahmed, a father of three from Malibagh Chowdhurypara, said: “I’m not a fan of social networking sites, but I think this is a very stupid decision following demands from Islamic parties.”

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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