A senior Facebook official met Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday to discuss a demand the company prevent blasphemous content or be blocked.
The meeting comes after a counter-terrorism court sentenced a 30-year-old man to death for making blasphemous comments on Facebook, part of a wider crack-down.
Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy, met the minister, who offered to approve a Facebook office in Pakistan, which has 33 million users of the network.
Nisar said the country believes in freedom of expression, but that does not include insulting Islam or stoking religious tensions. “We cannot allow anyone to misuse social media for hurting religious sentiments,” he said. Facebook called the meeting “constructive”.
“Facebook met with Pakistan officials to express the company’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of the people who use its service, and to enabling people to express themselves freely and safely,” the company said in an email. “It was an important and constructive meeting in which we raised our concerns over the recent court cases and made it clear we apply a strict legal process to any government request for data or content restrictions.”
Social media crack-down in the country is aimed at weeding out blasphemy and shutting down accounts promoting terrorism.
Anything deemed insulting to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) carries a death penalty in the country.
In April, a university student in Mardan, Mashal Khan, was beaten to death by a mob after being accused of blasphemous content on Facebook. Police arrested 57 people accused in the attack and said they had found no evidence Mashal committed blasphemy.
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