Pakistan calls on Facebook to extend holocaust denial ban into Islamophobia crackdown

As comms minister says nation will create its own regulated Netflix clone


Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan has called on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to ban all Islamophobic content from the platform.

Khan took to Twitter to point out that Facebook recently prohibited “any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust” and “banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions.”

The PM praised that stance, then argued it should be extended to Islamophobic content because, like Holocaust denial or anti-Semitism, it is hate speech.

Khan also argued that Islamophobic content marginalizes Muslims.

“We have seen how marginalization inevitably leads to extremism,” he wrote after mentioning ongoing controversy in France over cartoons that some deem racist and others deem free speech.

Khan also mentioned India’s decision to end limited self-government in Jammu and Kashmir, Muslim-majority states that both India and Pakistan claim but which are administered by India, and suggested that decision was part of a pattern of racist decisions by India’s government.

Facebook’s hate speech policy prohibits content that is “a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.” It is unclear if Khan wants that policy changed, administered differently, or some other action.

A Facebook spokesperson told The Register: "We stand against all forms of hate. We do not allow people to attack anyone based on their race, ethnicity, national origin or religion, and we’ll remove this hate speech as soon as we become aware of it."

"There is more work to do and we appreciate feedback from governments, experts and communities as we work to keep our platform safe.”

The PM’s call to Facebook came on the same day that Fawad Hussain, Pakistan’s science and technology minister, told local outlet Arab News that the nation would create a local equivalent of Netflix within six months and that it would only offer content approved by the Pakistan Electronic and Media Regulatory Authority. Hussain said the streaming service will be a public-private-partnership but offered no further detail.

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Pakistan has a long history of banning content on grounds of Islamophobia or divergence from local laws and mores, with YouTube and Tiktok among entities banned from reaching local users. Netflix has to date escaped such action, but some of its library is controversial and local banks have reportedly denied payments to the streaming service on moral grounds. ®


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