Only two weeks after Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg made a show of support for freedom of speech following a terror attack by radical Muslims in France, Facebook began censoring images of Muhammad in Turkey–including the very Charlie Hebdo images Zuckerberg claimed to support.
On January 9, Zuckerberg posted a message under his own name, taking credit for standing up to demands that Facebook censor images of Muhammad.
“Facebook has always been a place where people across the world share their views and ideas,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We follow the laws in each country, but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world.”
He ended his post with “#JeSuisCharlie,” a show of support for the murdered members of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo who lost their lives in an attack by radical Islamists on January 7.
A week later, Zuckerberg was still defending his condemnation of the attack on the French tabloid and pledged that he and Facebook would continue to offer “a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence.”
But now, only 18 days after his initial show of bravado, Zuckerberg and Facebook have agreed to censor images of Muhammad in Turkey. In fact, Facebook is even censoring the very images from Charlie Hebdo that sparked the terror attacks early this month, the very images Zuckerberg made to support his “#JeSuisCharlie” proclamation.
Still, despite talk of free speech and touting the creation of a service where people can “speak freely,” Facebook has joined with governments all across the world in censoring certain types of speech.
In fact, Facebook has agreed to help over a dozen countries censor content. The social media giant has worked with India, Turkey, Pakistan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and a host of others to censor political and religious speech on its service.
It seems that Facebook’s interaction with the governments of the world are far more “nuanced” than its chief’s braggadocio.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.