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Bangladesh Bans Facebook and Chat Apps Amid Civil Unrest

Two senior opposition politicians were recently executed in Bangladesh in a decision thwarted with controversy. They were hanged for war crimes but the move to do so was challenged by allegations that the victims weren't given fair trials. Now, in yet another contentious decision, the country has prohibited use of social networking sites and apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber in a bid to combat crime and radicalisation.

Bangladesh has seen a huge rise in internet use in recent years and is proving itself to be a leader in the developing world when it comes to technological application. However, with this comes fears that the internet is being used to spread violent extremism - an all too real one, as increasingly extremist groups are using sites such as those previously mentioned to spread propaganda, recruit members, arrange protests and raise funds.

Similarly to Turkey's social media ban, the ruling comes as a prevention method for further unrest in the country. This is not the first example of banning social sites in Bangladesh; in 2010, the country invoked a ‘temporary ban’ on Facebook after satirical images of the Prophet Muhammad were uploaded and shared. At the time, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said the images had “hurt religious sentiments for the majority Muslim population.” It was even reported at the time that the U.K thought about blocking social apps after the riots, after it became clear that some protests were organised on Blackberry Messenger.

Despite the web censorship, users are still managing to accessed blocked sites by using a VPR or proxy, or through software such as Tor. Some are even using social media sites to mock the bans.

Since the ban took hold on November 11, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kama said that the ban is temporary, and the suspension will be lifted "once the ongoing tense situation changes.”

SMF rookie, fresh out of academia, looking forward to more creative ventures. With a love of current affairs, green tea and an ever insatiable wanderlust, Katie is ready to have her voice heard. Follow her @KatieAtSMF

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Bangladesh Bans Facebook and Chat Apps Amid Civil Unrest Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, November 26, 2015 Rating: 5

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