Peter Kafka

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Pakistan Takes on Facebook, YouTube and the Internet

A good reminder that the definition of the “World Wide Web” can change, depending on the country you’re living in: The Pakistani government is trying to block some of the planet’s most popular Web sites, including Facebook, Google’s (GOOG) YouTube, Yahoo’s (YHOO) Flickr, and Wikipedia. Twitter is still okay–for now, apparently.

Associated Press:

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority didn’t point to specific material on YouTube that prompted it to block the site, only citing “growing sacrilegious contents.” The government took action against both Facebook and YouTube after it failed to persuade the sites to remove the “derogatory material,” the regulatory body said in a statement….

The regulatory body said it has blocked more than 450 Internet links containing offensive material, but it is unclear how many of the links were blocked in the past two days. Access to the online encyclopedia site Wikipedia and the photo sharing site Flickr also was restricted Thursday.

YouTube’s comment, via email: “We have received reports that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has ordered Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Pakistan to block access to YouTube. We are looking into the matter and are working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible.”

The moves are a reaction to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” which is a reaction to Muslim protests about an episode of “South Park” last month.

As the AP notes, Pakistan has temporarily blocked access to YouTube before. So have other countries, including Turkey and Thailand. And China has a permanent ban on the site, as well as on Facebook. This doesn’t mean people who live there can’t actually get to the sites–that’s what proxy servers are for–but it does mean it’s harder to do so.


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

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