Facebook has blocked an unspecified number of pages that featured content allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed on Monday, following an order from a local court in Turkey, according to Mashable.com.
On Sunday, a local court in Ankara, Turkey, threatened to block Facebook entirely if the social network didn’t comply with the order. But Facebook complied less than 24 hours later and blocked the content for Turkish users, according to a source familiar with the matter, the website said.
The latest developments are just the latest example of Turkey ramping up its online censorship efforts over the past few weeks. The government has repeatedly threatened to block both Facebook and Twitter if the companies didn’t comply with orders to block specific content, the report said.
On Jan. 14, a court ordered the country’s Telecommunications Directorate to ban access to websites showing Charlie Hebdo’s front cover. Many cartoons in the satirical French magazine depict the Prophet Mohammed in a negative light, Mashable said.
Turkey is No. 2 on the list of countries where Facebook blocks the most content, according to the company’s most recent transparency report. The blocking of the Facebook pages comes just a couple of weeks after Mark Zuckerberg vowed to keep Facebook a place where people can speak freely, the report said.
“Facebook has always been a place where people across the world share their views and ideas, ” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post following the attack at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris headquarters. In the same post, Zuckerberg hinted that at times, the social network will have to cave to government requests, the website said.
“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, ” he said, adding “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.”
Turkey completely blocked access to Twitter and YouTube last year after leaks of recordings related to a potential military operation in Syria. Twitter’s block was lifted after two weeks, while YouTube remained blocked for 67 days, the website said.
Tensions over the depiction of the prophet have flared in the Middle East after satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon of Mohammed on its cover in response to an attack on its offices which left 10 staff and two police officers dead, Newsweek said.
Critics have said that press freedom has yet to improve in Turkey and that the country’s president, Racep Tayyip Erdogan, had used the events in Paris last month to promote his anti-western agenda, according to the report.
Erdogan has previously called social media “the worst menace to society”. Twitter was briefly banned following anti-government protests in Istanbul in summer 2013, Newsweek said.
An internet law passed in February last year gave the country’s telecommunications authority permission to block website access without a court ruling. Both Twitter and YouTube were banned last March in the run-up to a local election, although the bans were lifted after two weeks and two months respectively following court orders, the report said.