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Facebook may soon be unblocked..

Facebook could be soon unblocked for users in Bangladesh, a senior telecoms ministry official has said. 

Telecommunications secretary Sunil Kanti Bose told bdnews24.com on Thursday that the ban on Facebook would be lifted after the authorities removed the objectionable contents. 

The authorities have almost removed offensive contents after complaints from local regulators, according to sources in the government conversant with the matter. 

"They have taken off two (fan pages) with anti-Islam contents and one individual account. Another is being wiped off," BTRC chairman Zia Ahmed said, when contacted by bdnews24.com. 

The BTRC chief said the social networking site had promised to work together with the Bangladesh regulators and deal with "troubling content" in the future. 

"I look forward to learning more about your local standards and working together to promote safe use of Facebook in Bangladesh," Joe Sullivan, Facebook's chief security officer, was quoted by Ahmed as saying. 

BTRC officials said Facebook authorities admitted some of the content violated Bangladesh law. 

The government temporarily shut the site on Saturday a few hours after arresting a man for posting caricatures of the prime minister and opposition leader and obnoxious comments. Rodin is alleged to be directly involved with various cyber crimes. 

More than 400 million people worldwide use California-based Facebook, of which Bangladesh accounts for just over 876,020 users, mostly youth. 

Pakistan, Iran, Vietnam, Syria and China also temporarily blocked the popular site 

The telecoms regulator blocked the site "for a while" following requests from the elite crime busters RAB, a senior BTRC official had told bdnews24.com. 

RAB arrested Mahbubul Alam Rodin in the capital early on that day for publishing caricatures of prime minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia. He was questioned on remand. 

Facebookers, as they are called, generally use this networking site to share personal details with friends. 

The block appeared to have not only curbed the freedom of access but also may have thousands of foreign currency in lost business. 

Hundreds of Dhaka University students took to the campus streets May 30 to protest the government temporarily shutting down the website. They called the decision a contradiction to the government's 'Digital Bangladesh' vision and "interference with the right of expression". 

The students also said such a step would embolden radical Islamists who are demanding a complete ban on Facebook on charges of "blasphemous contents". 

On May 28, a number of religion-based political organisations demanded closure of the site. 

Several software firms in Bangladesh develop content for Facebook, according to Habibullah N Karim, the ex-president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services. 

"This is a huge market. I have even made $1,000 a month," Mahfuz, who only gave one name, told bdnews24.com.

According to him, making $500 per month is very common among the freelance developers. "I know a person who earns $8 per hour just through developing Facebook content." 

Rough estimates have it that there are about 200 such freelancers, who are not engaged with any firm. 

And industry insiders say that there are in addition one or two firms who solely work for Facebook. 

"We make around $30,000 per month and we only develop content for Facebook," said a software firm owner, preferring anonymity. 

Source: bdnews24.com


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