When I first received an email about the petition to demand Facebook remove the ‘draw Mohammad’ group, I have to admit I was moved to support the idea. After all, places like Facebook are fun places to chit chat with friends, and inflammatory rhetoric only makes that less fun. But then I thought more about the situation, and I began to question whether the answer was really to demand Facebook to remove the offensive group, or to get my friends to use the site more.
Facebook is open to the whole world, and you can find groups for almost anything there. Yes, there is the offensive ‘draw Mohammad’ group, but there is also a page for ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ which is an anti-Jewish propaganda.There is also a group that is anti-Christian with an obscene name. It has thousands of members. There is even a popular group called “I Hate Facebook”!
Like the world itself, Facebook has all sorts of misguided people who either truly hold twisted views, or are simply immature and like to say outrageous things just to cause some problems. Banning these people’s groups might hide them for a short moment, but surely they would pop up again somewhere else. And boycotting Facebook means punishing ourselves for the misbehaviour of others.
When I read that LHC has ordered a temporary ban on Facebook, I sighed with disappointment. Is this really the best way to react? Let me propose an alternative that might be more effective.
If Pakistanis boycott Facebook, will this really make the people who try to offend and hate Islam change their ways? Probably not. They will probably still make their childish drawings and wallow in their immature attempts to make people mad.
But what if, instead, we organized a movement on Facebook to educate people about Islam? What if we got a group of people and instead of posting hateful messages on the Facebook page (which is just what these people want), what if we posted hadiths that show how Prophet Muhammad was accepting of all people, that showed that Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, not of violence. That Pakistan is a nation of intelligent and kind people, not Hakimullah Mehsuds and other Taliban idiots.
What if we spent the time that nobody from Pakistan will be able to use Facebook to get more Pakistanis to sign up! The greater our presence on this site – which is not going away – the more people would learn about who we really are and not the hateful lies that some people are spreading.
I have said before that ‘We must define who we are. Because if we don’t, someone else will.’ This is the same whether we are talking about media, militants, or people on Facebook.