Facebook is weak and utterly wrong to censor 'offensive' pages in Turkey

Facebook is weak and utterly wrong to censor 'offensive' pages in Turkey

Mark Zuckerberg is a hypocrite. For all of his spiel about being a proponent of free speech, ultimately he is a man all too willing to bow to the demands of a country. Turkey took umbrage at the existence of pages that insulted or offended the Prophet Mohammad and threatened to completely ban Facebook in the country if they were not blocked.

Facebook has now decided to comply with the Turkish demands. Zuckerberg would have us believe that "we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world", but this is clearly not the case when it comes to upsetting the Islamic faith. This latest move is a political one and shows a lack of strength and conviction.


In Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan is looking to enforce an Islamic agenda, and the majority of the country is Muslim. Prosecutor Harun Ceylan requested the order to ban Facebook through Golbasi Duty Magistrate Court. A "valid legal request" led to one page being blocked, but now it seems that Facebook is willing to further comply with demands from Turkey.

It's a decision that must, at least in part, be driven by money. Turkey is far from being an insignificant country -- boasting millions of social network users -- and Facebook will be keen to keep as many people happy so that advertisers have more potential customers to target their goods at.

There is no just law that protects against offense. Offense is something that is taken, not given. Facebook users should be free, the world over, to question, mock, ridicule and -- in some cases -- offend. If Facebook decided to block any and all content that was deemed offensive by someone, somewhere in the world, there would be next to nothing left to look at!

While money is almost certainly a key factor in Facebook's decision, the fact that it is the Islamic faith that’s central to the story is probably more important. Islam is the untouchable religion. Express doubt about other religions and you might raise a few eyebrows and rub a few people up the wrong way, but it won't usually result in death or threats from an entire country. Can you imagine the Pope contacting Zuckerberg to block pages that 'insult' (and I use quotation marks because I find the idea of one's beliefs being insulted laughable) Catholicism? It's incredibly unlikely, but Zuckerberg would almost certainly shrug it off and do nothing of the sort.

But when Islam is involved it's a completely different story. Zuckerberg shows himself to be weak, two-faced and hypocritical. He has said that Facebook complies with laws around the world, and the Turkish Penal Code says:

Any person who openly provokes a group of people belonging to different social class, religion, race, sect, or coming from another origin, to be rancorous or hostile against another group, is punished with imprisonment from one year to three years in case of such act causes risk from the aspect of public safety.


Any person who openly disrespects the religious belief of a group is punished with imprisonment from six months to one year if such act causes potential risk for public peace.

But both of these articles are open to interpretation. They are worded in such a way to give more leverage to those of a religious bent, but it should be questioned. 'Disrespect' is an all but meaningless term and also a dangerous one in this context.

After the Charlie Hebdo killings Zuckerberg made it sound as though Facebook was going to stand firm and defend users' rights to express their beliefs. It seems this only applies in certain cases and bowing to Turkey undermines any political guff spouted about supporting freedom of speech. You disappoint me, Zuckerberg.

Photo credit: patrice6000 / Shutterstock

45 Responses to Facebook is weak and utterly wrong to censor 'offensive' pages in Turkey

  1. aires69uk says:

    Weak hypocrite. Gutless. Shameful.

  2. WP7Mango says:

    Mark, I totally agree with you.

  3. conan007 says:

    Very well said. Qur'an claimed a woman is only half the worth of a man in terms of witness and inheritance and advise husband beat their wives if they don't obey. Clearly Qur'an is quite offensive and is not compatible to Turkish laws. Why don't Turkish government ban Qur'an?

    • Achili Abdulaziz says:

      Misinformed idiot.

    • snuffdaddy says:

      Conan007 i have only been lazy enough to read 5% of the Koran & i still know your full of it with that remark.
      Book reading was never your strong in school or in life it seems.

      • conan007 says:

        So what percentage of the Charlie Hebdo have you or the killers or the Turkish government read?

      • snuffdaddy says:

        Are you new to this debate its been an issue with muslim country long before the Charlie H

      • conan007 says:

        So what extra browny points did you bring to the table? Of course I don't expect to the arguments can be resolved shortly.

    • snuffdaddy says:

      In the last 48 hrs the 1st ever female Church of England priest was ordained.She had to hear in the background groups of men shouting "Not in our name" in the church.
      Still waiting for your comment on it?

      • Roger_Ramshit says:

        The difference is that governments should not allow religious organisations determine law. The actual story is about government pressure while you example is a bunch of religious halfwits.

      • snuffdaddy says:

        Anyone who believes they speak for a higher being or are receiving messages from one whether personally or in a position of power is a religious halfwit. I cant see the difference.

      • CymraegWelsh says:

        You can find primitive retrogrades in any human group to care of all of them, better keeping guard up about the ones with biggest firepower and money-power.

      • conan007 says:

        NO, not " "Not in our name", I think it is "not in the Bible". I think he is correct - it is against Bible so not Christian so should not be accepted in a Christian church.

      • snuffdaddy says:

        You lost me at "its not in the bible" there is many great things & practices currently not in your holy touched by god book,

        You been picking & choosing which to accept & which to ignore for 2000 yrs, you kind of lost credibility over that one.

      • conan007 says:

        "The christian leaders have been picking & choosing which to accept & which to ignore for 2000 yrs" Yes exactly. Why would I want people to believe earth is flat?

      • snuffdaddy says:

        Because it was religion that told you it was,and it was science that told you it wasn't.
        Going back to your "its not in the bible" response.

      • conan007 says:

        You really confuse me. What "it" ("it was"; "it wasn't") you referred to? "Going back to your "its not in the bible" response." "its not in the bible" is not my response - it was a response from a priest from Church of England, and his name was Paul Williamson. You said some people shouted "Not in our name" and I corrected you (and gave a link) that what actually shouted was "not in the bible". Of course Paul Williamson can shout whatever he wants.

  4. elopez17 says:

    stop using facebook Boycott

    • snuffdaddy says:

      Why? Its a US capitalist profit making company, working exactly how it should.
      Did you not read the memo?

  5. GumbyDammit! says:

    Yes, I'm completely shocked that Facebook failed to stand up against censorship and, instead, stood up for corporate profits. Nobody could have seen that one coming a mile away.

  6. Mary Web.. says:

    Lol your talking from America about a different nation and people and you expect THEM to bow to our free speech? Yes I know Zuc said one thing then backs down yet again its not America were talking about. Your on the outside looking in. Your not different.. your not going to touch this.. the worst you will do is say " Islam bad" and put a period after it.

    This guy has more to lose. Look where he is and then look where you are.. like he cares. Unless your willing to go all out pay the price so to speak for just what you really believe as some do and die for it.. go back and post about MS and Apple ..you know the things that really matter.

    • Roger_Ramshit says:

      He does not need to back down....let Facebook be banned...I doubt Facebook investors will lose much sleep over it and what it will actually do is allow another somewhat backward thinking nation move one step closer to to the 21st century.

  7. sgrandin says:

    Yeah sure, the U.S. (and British) government doesn't indirectly and directly censor what newspapers and their websites report every day, and wouldn't censor Facebook and all sites, "social" or not, if they deemed the circumstances warranted. Just ask the Japanese who spent WWII in U.S. concentration camps and the political leftists and pacifists who were jailed under the Smith Act and other laws.

    • snuffdaddy says:

      It was a cartoon, if you think the response was measured after sending a letter, emails & asking for an interview with the editor they decided they had no other avenue of response but to kill.
      You need a max dose of chill pills with your morphine.

    • Hall9000 says:

      And I'm sure that the first question you ask a rape victim is how she or he was dressed. Just so you know I've seen both the pre attack edition and the after attack edition and I can tell you for a fact that while pushing the envelope there was no justification for that disgusting attack. All of the articles and cartoons are about social injustices. You know? Like racism, people abused by the government or religion, and other irrelevant things like that. Even showing support for muslims that are treated like dirt in France. How's that for offensive?
      Those offensive cartoons of Allah? The last one was Allah saying all was forgiven. It was about forgiveness instead of hate. Still offended? As for all the other offensive pictures of Allah they were all about showing how muslims were victims of their own religion. Still offended? An other cartoon is some insane terrorist trying to behead the Prophet himself! The Prophet tells the terrorist that he's a moron. Still offended? Fine. Now you can go take a hike for all I care.
      Turkey doesn't want offensive pictures on the web? Fine. They can install filters IN THEIR COUNTRY but I'll be damned before they start telling me what I can or can't see because of theor own religious or political beliefs.

    • Roger_Ramshit says:

      Got to pull you up on this one. Exactly when did Charlie Hedbo ask for the heinous attack?
      Coz you know where this argument is heading...girls dressing provocatively, girls walking the streets at night, girls drinking in public and so on. Damn those girls who think they have some right equal to males. Roll eyes.

  8. snuffdaddy says:

    So what if Facebook is banned, those in Turkey will just find another avenue to express their political & intellectual freedom.

    Who told you Facebook was the face of political freedom & not mostly whining self indulged people seeking attention.

  9. lissack says:

    Are you suggesting that Facebook should break the law in Turkey because YOU believe that law to be wrong? Grow up.
    The Turks have every right to have the law as they see fit. If Facebook wants to operate in Turkey it MUST obey Turkish law.
    If you are so sure of the "righteousness" of your beliefs then why not openly insult the King of Thailand while you are staying at a fine Thai beach resort. See how long you stay out of jail.
    US ideas are NOT the law in most of the world.

  10. elopez17 says:

    WoW Lissack you just said right "US ideas are NOT the law in most of the world"

    soooo " Turkey ideas are NOT the law in most of the world"

    right lissack

    • snuffdaddy says:

      Turkey is not claiming sovereignty over the world but in its own country, Your claiming Facebook sovereignty of free peace for the rest of the world.

      • CymraegWelsh says:

        FB is a private company based in the US, servers are placed in the US or the rest of the world, content is generated from users from the US or the rest of the world.
        If nation X has troubles with said content, nation X should not menace, cry, and protest with FB.
        They should (at their expenses) block content with national ISP, possibly closes FB servers on nation X, and prosecute offending FB users on nation X... and watch the rest of the free world protesting and giving economic sanctions they deserves for their fascism - unless they are rich as China.

  11. kstev99 says:

    Zuckerberg is dead wrong on this. If you bow to one, all will expect it. Good Article

  12. TheNefilim says:

    Facebook exists to make money, getting blocked from the Turkish market would cost it money. So it's doing what all you freedom loving capitalists say a company should do, protect the bottom line...

    • Roger_Ramshit says:

      Still...Facebook should just shutdown completely in Turkey and wait for the Turks themselves to sort out what it is they want and then vote for it...they are a democracy after all and its not like Facebook can't do without the revenue from Turkey for a while.

      By the way, since when should people listen to just the freedom loving capitalists. It would be a very sad world if this group of people dictated everything.

    • CymraegWelsh says:

      Money is just printed paper.
      Value comes from the level of trust, respect, credibility of what is printed on said paper - just try to buy goods with confederate dollars or Wiemar marks...

      The myopic capitalist system does not understand the middle/long term risks of undermining said level of trust with inability to stand ground (and to understand how to get respect rather than loathe from the rest of the world).
      This FB move is not capitalism, is bad capitalism.

  13. oneleft1 says:

    "But both of these articles are open to interpretation."
    Well, sure. But any interpretation has absolutely no weight in how it's interpreted in Turkey which is the only place where any interpretation matters. Yours and mine mean nothing.

    It is the law and FB should obey it, regardless of how you or I feel about it or choose to interpret it. Is FB to obey laws only in certain countries? Who's going to decide which laws are to be followed and which aren't? Are all laws in all countries going to be based on our value system?

    "Facebook users should be free, the world over, to question, mock, ridicule and -- in some cases -- offend." That's a noble and nice sentiment which I entirely agree with. But that's not how it works.

    Having said that, Turkey would have been better served by declaring that, based on their laws as written, ALL religious mockery and offense has to be removed from FB.

  14. Diak Niol says:

    Do you wanna spy someone's Facebook? 1TopSpy is your choice. All Facebook chat conversations messages are uploaded to your online 1TopSpy control panel which you can access from anywhere with an internet connection. You'd try it :D

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