Meta denies Kazakh claim to exclusive access to Facebook’s content reporting system


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. 2 (Reuters) – Facebook owner Meta Platforms (FB.O) on Tuesday denied a claim by the Kazakh government that he had been granted exclusive access to the social network’s content reporting system.

In what it called a joint statement with Facebook, the Kazakh government on Monday presented the so-called exclusive access as a compromise solution after the Central Asian nation threatened to block Facebook for millions of local users.

The Nour-Sultan cabinet had said that an agreement, which would have been the first of its kind in the post-Soviet region of Central Asia, would streamline the process of removing content deemed illegal by Kazakhstan.

But Meta spokesman Ben McConaghy said the company has a dedicated online channel for governments around the world to report content they believe violates local law.

“We follow a consistent global process to assess individual claims – regardless of any government – in accordance with Facebook policies, local laws and international human rights standards,” he said in an email. to Reuters.

“This process is the same in Kazakhstan as in other countries of the world.”

Meta Platforms did not release the statement that Kazakhstan called for a joint project, although local news site cited Information Minister Aida Balayeva as insisting that its text had been agreed with the company.

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 on Monday that the bill paved the way for talks with the tech giants and authorities are now ready to relax its provisions.

Critics of the bill have accused authorities in the 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 others. 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; Editing by William Maclean, Kenneth Maxwell and Edwina Gibbs

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