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Sunday, 30 May 2010

Facebook has been blocked in Bangladesh for a brief period, a senior BTRC official told Saturday evening after hundreds of users reported the social networking site was down.

The official, speaking on condition anonymity, admitted that elite crime busters RAB requested temporary closure of the site in the country.

"Yes, it's been blocked for a while," the official told at 8:50pm.

The official would not give further details.

Hundreds of users reported that the social networking site was down after attempting to log on from 7pm.

More than 400m people worldwide use this social networking of which Bangladesh accounts for just over 875,000 users.

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

BTRC's chief technical officer Biplob Chakma confirmed at around 9.30pm that the site was indeed blocked based on a 'memo'.

He also said that he may be able to provide with further details about the shutdown on Sunday morning after reporting for duty.

However, Biplob declined to reveal the identity of the authority which issued the letter.

RAB arrested a youth from the capital early Saturday for publishing caricatures of prime minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia.

RAB also alleged that the youth was responsible of a number of cyber crimes using a number of fake identities.

A number of religion-based political organisations demanded closure of the site on Friday.

The parties that made this demand in a meeting at Muktangan include the Islami Andolan, Islami Oikkyajot and Khilafat Andolan.

Dhaka University vice chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddique said, "This is nothing unexpected. It is happening because of the irresponsible attitude of its users."

He also urged speedy identification and trial of those who violate privacy through such technology.

M Lutful Kabir, chairman of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology's information, communication and technology, gave his initial reaction as a user.

"If Facebook affects any group or individual or causes any social problem then the Facebook authority should be contacted right away to remove the content causing the problem."

Regarding the much harsher measure adopted by the Bangladesh government, he said, "Such blocks may be temporary, but it would be improper to make them permanent."


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