ISLAMABAD: The Facebook management has assured Pakistan that it will remove fake accounts and explicit, hateful and provocative material that incites violence and terrorism.
The commitment was given by Vice President of Facebook Joel Kaplan who called on Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan here on Friday.
“Facebook… has reiterated its commitment to keep the platform safe and promote values that are in congruence with its community standards. It also vowed to remove sacrilegious material from Facebook,” the interior ministry’s spokesman said while giving details of the meeting.
Mr Kaplan’s visit is believed to be a significant development in connection with the efforts being made for removing sacrilegious content from social media.
The interior minister discussed with Mr Kaplan different steps and actions being taken to remove blasphemous content from social media.
The spokesman said it was for the first time that a senior member of the Facebook management dealing with its global public policy had visited Pakistan to discuss the way forward towards addressing the issue of misuse of social media platforms, particularly Facebook which has over 33 million users in Pakistan.
The interior ministry has been engaging internet service providers and trying to find a solution to the issue of misuse of social media, according to the spokesman. The efforts include convening of a special meeting of the ambassadors of the Muslim countries in March on a single point agenda to discuss blasphemous content on social media and how to effectively raise voice of the Muslim world against the madness unleashed against Islam and holy personalities in the name of freedom of expression. It was followed by a meeting of the interior minister with the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Conference on April 11on the issue.
The spokesperson quoted Chaudhry Nisar as saying at the meeting that the Muslim Ummah was disturbed and had serious concern over the misuse of social media platforms to propagate blasphemous content. “Nothing is more sacred to us than our religion and our holy personalities.”
He said that the government of Pakistan firmly believed in freedom of expression but, at the same time, no one could be allowed to misuse social media for hurting religious sentiments or undertaking unlawful activities.
“We appreciate the understanding shown by the Facebook administration and the cooperation it is extending to us on these issues,” he said.
The minister appreciated Facebook for bridging communication gaps and providing Pakistani people a platform to interact that also served as a vehicle for promotion of education, businesses, socio-economic development and empowering women.
He asked Facebook to open its office in Pakistan, saying that local offices of social media networks would help them extend their outreach and would also be instrumental in bringing them and the government closer to each other and forging a mutually beneficial partnership.
During the meeting, Mr Kaplan highlighted different initiatives of Facebook aimed at skill development and economic growth in Pakistan, while working with developers, small businesses and women.
He said Facebook’s Developers Circles, a free community-led programme for developers to connect, learn and collaborated 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,” he said.
Mr Kaplan told the minister that Facebook had recently launched a digital literacy campaign called iChamp with a goal to coordinate with 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 the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, an estimated 600,000 students will be trained by experts through free handbook and other resources.
The minister praised different initiatives of Facebook and stressed the need for strengthening collaboration by exploring new avenues of cooperation.