Facebook Censors Images of Prophet Mohammed in Turkey

Facebook bows to Turkish laws two weeks after CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes bold statement on free speech.

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Pro-Islamist demonstrators protesting Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, which published a four-page spread of Charlie Hebdo cartoons, in Istanbul, January 14, 2015.
Pro-Islamist demonstrators protesting Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, which published a four-page spread of Charlie Hebdo cartoons, in Istanbul, January 14, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Facebook has bowed to Turkish laws and censored images of the Prophet Mohammed on the heels of CEO Mark Zuckberg's bold #JeSuisCharlie statement on free speech, several news outlets have reported.

"Facebook has always been a place where people across the world share their views and ideas. We follow the laws in each country, but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world," Zuckerberg posted on January 8, after an attack on a satirical magazine in Paris, Charlie Hebdo, killed 12.

"Yet as I reflect on yesterday's attack and my own experience with extremism, this is what we all need to reject – a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone else around the world.

"I won't let that happen on Facebook. I'm committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence."

Zuckberg ended the post with "#JeSuisCharlie."

This week, according to the BBC, Facebook blocked an unspecified number of pages that "offended the Prophet Mohammed after receiving the order from a court in Ankara." While, Facebook states it observes local laws, the timing rubbed the some in rest of the free press the wrong way.

According to the U.K.'s Independent, "there's something a bit grating about the decision, coming so very soon after Zuckerberg's rosy-eyed epistle on free speech."

This incident is not the first time that reality has trumped Zuckerberg's declared idealism.

In December, Facebook acceded to Russian Internet regulators' request to censor the page of Alexei Navalny, Russia's leading Putin critic, the Washington Post reported. Facebook has also reportedly taken down sites related to Syrian and Chinese dissidents. The International Campaign for Tibet delivered over 20,000 signatures to Zuckerberg on Tuesday, protesting the deletion of a post by Tibetan writer and activist Tsering Woeser about the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk in December.

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