Social media giant Facebook has dismissed the Pakistan government request to link all accounts to individual phone numbers, calling it “improbable”, the media reported. “Pakistan had suggested that Facebook accounts be linked with users’ mobile phone numbers. However, the management of Facebook believed it was more feasible to sync accounts with email addresses,” a senior official from the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) told Dawn News on Saturday. The official explained that the purpose of the request, turned down by Facebook, was to help the government deal with fake accounts, which were often used to spread hate material online.
On Wednesday, Ministry of IT Secretary Rizwan Bashir told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology that the government had suggested that Facebook sync users’ accounts with mobile phone numbers. However, he told Dawn News that Facebook maintained that the policy for creating new accounts would remain unchanged. But the social media giant did respond positively to Pakistan’s request to block blasphemous content and other hate material posted by users. “Facebook assured us they would look into the government’s concerns on a priority basis after assessing the situation,” the official added.
Last week, Vice President of Facebook Joel Kaplan had met Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to discuss ways to remove hateful, provocative and blasphemous content from the website. Facebook, which has over 33 million users in Pakistan, was banned by the government after a page called for users to post drawings of Prophet Muhammad, which was offensive to Muslims around the world, surfaced on the website.