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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Protest by Indonesian Islamists accuses Facebook of bias

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Several hundred Indonesian Islamists held a protest rally outside Facebook's headquarters in Jakarta on Friday, accusing the social media giant of discrimination for blocking some pages operated by hard-line groups for allegedly spreading hate.

The protesters, many dressed in white and including members of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), marched from a mosque to Facebook's offices in the capital of the world's biggest Muslim-majority country."We want to remind Facebook to remain neutral and balanced," Slamet Maarif, a spokesman for FPI, told reporters.

"There are many accounts that spread hate about Islam, ulamas that are allowed to operate. There are accounts that talk about Islamic humanitarian aid, those are blocked," said Maarif, adding that the group still planned to use Facebook and intended to open new accounts.

Facebook said its policy was to delete content that violated its community standards. "Our community standards are made to prevent organizations or individuals that urge hate speech or violence against those who hold different views," said a company representative, who declined to be identified.

A spokesman for Indonesia's communications ministry, Semuel Pangerapan, said, "We have never requested that FPI's accounts be closed." Some Islamist groups in Indonesia use social media extensively and FPI usually has about 100 accounts on Facebook, as well as on other social media platforms such as Twitter.

The rally was peaceful, though more than 1,200 police officers were brought in to guard the offices, media said.Indonesians are avid users of social media and Facebook had 115 million users in the second quarter of 2017, according to media citing its country manager, ranking the country fourth globally after the United States, India and Brazil. Some of the protesters on Friday made live video streams of the rally to air via Facebook.

-Reuters, Jakarta

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