ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Vice President of Facebook Joel Kaplan Friday discussed steps and actions being taken to remove blasphemous content that is illegal in Pakistan.
Facebook, on its part, has reiterated its commitment to keep platform safe and promote values that are in congruence with its community standards. It also committed to remove fake accounts, explicit, hateful and provocative material that incites violence and terrorism.
Giving details of the meeting, a spokesperson of Ministry of Interior said this is for the first time that a senior member of Facebook management dealing with Global Public Policy has visited Pakistan to discuss way forward towards addressing issue of misuse of social media platforms, especially Facebook which has over 33 million users in Pakistan.
The minister, the spokesperson said, has been playing a proactive role in engaging Internet Service Providers and finding solution to issue of misuse of social media.
This also included convening of a special meeting of 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 entire Muslim world against madness unleashed against Islam and holy personalities in name of freedom of expression.
This was followed by a meeting of the minister with secretary general OIC on April 11, on this issue.
The minister said entire Muslim Ummah is greatly disturbed and has serious concerns over misuse of social media platforms to propagate blasphemous content.
“Nothing is more sacred to us than our religion and our holy personalities,” the minister observed.
He said the government of Pakistan firmly believes in freedom of expression but we cannot allow anyone to misuse social media for hurting religious sentiments or undertaking unlawful activities.
Chaudhry Nisar said, “We appreciate understanding shown by Facebook administration and cooperation being extended to us on these issues.”
The minister also appreciated Facebook for bridging communication gaps and providing people a platform not only to interact but also serving as a vehicle for promotion of education, businesses, socio-economic development and empowering women in the country.
To further this purpose in Pakistan, the minister also encouraged Facebook to open up office in Pakistan.
Local offices of service providers would not only help them extending their outreach but would also be instrumental in bringing the government and service providers further closer to each other and forge a mutually beneficial partnership, the minister continued.
During the meeting, Kaplan highlighted various initiatives of Facebook that are aimed at skill development and economic growth programmes in Pakistan, working with developers, small businesses and women in the country.
He said Facebook’s Developers Circles- a free community-led programme for developers to connect, learn and collaborated with other local developers – have 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.
Kaplan also informed the minister that Facebook has recently launched a digital literacy campaign called iChamp with a goal to touch secondary schools on a mass scale across Pakistan to educate youth on 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 all four provinces, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, an estimated 600,000 students will be trained by experts through Free Basics with free handbook and other resources.
Chaudhry Nisar appreciated various initiatives of Facebook and observed that there was a need to further strengthen our collaboration by exploring new avenues of cooperation.