Facebook allows Kazakh government to directly report harmful content, joint statement says


A view shows the Baiterek monument after the lights go out for Earth Hour in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on March 27, 2021. REUTERS / Vasily Fedosenko / File Photo

ALMATY, Nov. 1 (Reuters) – Facebook owner Meta Platforms (FB.O) has granted the Kazakh government access to its content reporting system, after the Central Asian nation threatened to block the social network for millions of local users.

The Nur-Sultan cabinet and Facebook said in a joint statement Monday that the agreement, the first of its kind in the post-Soviet region of Central Asia, would streamline the process of removing content deemed illegal by Kazakhstan.

The oil-rich nation’s parliament in September began work on a bill that would allow the government to block social media and messaging apps unless their developers open offices in the country and appoint executives. personally responsible for examining complaints from the authorities.

MP Aidos Sarym, one of the developers of the bill, said on his Facebook page that the bill paved the way for talks with the tech giants and authorities are now ready to relax its provisions. .

Under the agreement between Nur-Sultan and the network, “Facebook has provided Kazakhstan with direct and exclusive access to Facebook’s Content Reporting System (CRS), which can help the government report potentially infringing content. the global content policy of Facebook and the local laws of Kazakhstan. “the parties said in a joint statement.

The statement quoted Facebook’s regional director of public policy, George Chen, as saying the company hoped the measure would help the government tackle harmful content more effectively and efficiently. He said the company is working with Kazakhstan in particular on “online safety for children”.

Critics of the bill have accused authorities in the autocratic nation of 19 million people of seeking new censorship tools, while the bill’s authors say it aims to prevent cyberbullying and the spread of ‘other dangerous content.

The government said there are at least 3.2 million Facebook users in Kazakhstan. Other applications of Meta Platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp are even more popular.

Facebook has long been criticized by an advocacy group for being too compliant with government censorship demands.

The service has mainly avoided closures outside of countries like China, where it has long been stranded, but has come under pressure this year in a number of countries, including India, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Report by Olzhas Asezov, edited by William Maclean

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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