The recent ban on YouTube in Pakistan because of its “growing sacrilegious content” has raised concerns on how far a Website should go in controlling its content so as not to cause offence to anyone. This move is an extension of a high court order to ban Facebook, because of a page which invited people to draw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, as part of a crackdown on Websites that are seen to host un-Islamic content.
While some argue that the authorities over-reacted and the entire Websites should not be blocked, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) insist that the order to “completely shut down” YouTube and prevent access to Facebook from within the country, was made after pursuing “all possible avenues” to resolve the matter. However, it is not yet clear how far this ban might go particularly as access to some Wikipedia and Flickr pages have now been restricted and Twitter might just be next in line as traffic to the micro-blogging site has increased. Furthermore, there are some suggestions that the ban might not be completely successful as some Internet users may find their way around by using alternative means such as proxy servers.
YouTube says they are “looking into the matter and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible” and a Facebook statement says “while the content does not violate our terms, we do understand it may not be legal in some countries. In cases like this, the approach is sometimes to restrict certain content from being shown in specific countries”.
This is not the first ban on popular social-networking sites, some other countries such as China, permanently ban Facebook and YouTube. Therefore, should social networks be held responsible for every user-generated content hosted on their Website?