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5 April, 2020 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 5 April, 2020 04:47:43 PM
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RUMOURS ON COVID-19

Bangladesh not happy with Facebook

SHAHED SIDDIQUE, Dhaka

The government is unhappy with the Facebook authorities as the social media giant is not complying with Bangladesh requests to delete some posts relating to spread of novel coronavirus, which the government considers to be ‘rumours’

Sources with the government agencies, which monitor posts on social media, said they have sent at least 100 requests to Facebook authorities to delete some posts relating to the spread of coronavirus, which is spreading across the globe including Bangladesh.

The agencies said they did not get any response from Facebook authorities until now to stop these ‘rumours’.

Minister for Post and Telecommunications Mustafa Jabbar on Wednesday told The Independent, “It is a matter of regret that the Facebook is ignoring our requests to stop rumours spreading through Facebook. The rumours are harmful for the country. We requested the social media giant to remove some posts or deactivate some pages, but we did not get any response.”

In Bangladesh, Facebook has minimum 35 million users.

Earlier, the Bangladesh government requested the Facebook to set up offices in Bangladesh.

In a meeting with the telecoms minister in September, 2019 Facebook officials agreed to appoint local representative in Bangladesh and pay taxes to state exchequer.

Global digital platforms such as Google, Facebook and Youtube are getting advertisements from Bangladesh but are not paying taxes to Bangladesh government.

Annually, Google, Facebook and Youtube together reportedly pull more than Tk 1,000 crore (Tk10 billion) in revenue from Bangladesh and most of the amount is not sent through the country’s banking channel.

In a recent development, after failing to force the global social media giants to set up representative offices or appoint agents in line with VAT laws, the National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh’s apex authorities for tax administration, now plans to allow the digital platforms to secure direct VAT registration without opening local offices as part of its move to bring them under the tax net.

 

In the 2019 meeting, Facebook authorities also agreed to comply with Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act and share information with law enforcers, according to the minister. Critics say Digital Security Act is a very stringent and is allegedly aimed at gagging ‘freedom of expression’.  

In that meeting, the minister urged the Facebook authorities to follow the Bangladeshi guidelines on anarchy, pornography, rumours, question paper leak, propaganda and social security.

“I don’t know what happened in recent days, why they are not implementing their commitments with us,” the minister told The independent on Wednesday.

Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer of mobile operator Robi Axiata Limited, said there is little doubt that Facebook and other messaging platforms are being used to spread misinformation sometimes. “The messaging apps should act fast to filter news feed and ban pseudonym or fake users immediately.” 

Facebook has a global policy for their users that they state on their website:   

“The goal of our Community Standards has always been to create a place for expression and give people a voice. This has not and will not change. Building community and bringing the world closer together depends on people’s ability to share diverse views, experiences, ideas and information. We want people to be able to talk openly about the issues that matter to them, even if some may disagree or find them objectionable. In some cases, we allow content which would otherwise go against our Community Standards – if it is newsworthy and in the public interest.”

Bangladesh implemented a project in 2018 to block any website. And under the project, at least 2,000 porn and other sensitive websites were blocked last year. But the government does not have the ability to block any Facebook post or link.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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