Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message to his timeline earlier today, praising the unity march that took place in France following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last week.

However, one commenter responded to Zuck asking why Facebook had removed a post from Pakistani actor Hamza Ali Abbasi, in which he had questioned how the west defines “freedom of expression,” saying that such liberties shouldn’t extend to insulting religious beliefs.

Zuckerberg personally responded to the comment, tagging Facebook VP Justin Osofsky in his response, saying he thought it might have been a mistake while asking him to look in to it.


Osofsky responded later, saying:

“As Mark mentioned, we made a mistake in taking this down. We try to do our best, but sometimes make mistakes. We apologize for this error, and hope that the author will re-post it as we are not able to restore it from our end. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.”

While Ali Abbasi has yet to repost his message as Osofsky suggests, you can still read it via a screenshot he subsequently posted to his timeline. You may agree/disagree with the sentiments, but it hardly seems inflammatory enough to merit a takedown. That said, it could be that the post was flagged given some of the racial language used, which, taken as standalone utterances with no context, may have contravened the rules.


“Free speech”

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last week, Mark Zuckerberg vowed not to bow to extremists’ demands to censor Facebook, all in the name of free-speech — he said he was “committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence.”

Zuckerberg also revealed he was once the target of a Pakistan-based extremist who “fought to have me sentenced to death” when the social network refused to remove “offensive” content related to the prophet Muhammad.

So it perhaps comes as little surprise that Facebook’s every move is being scrutinized for signs of inconsistency such as this — commenters were quick to issue retorts such as “double standards” in response to this takedown.

To Zuckerberg’s credit in this instance, he was fast to respond and Facebook admitted it shouldn’t have deleted the original post. But we can likely expect more examples as Facebook’s credentials as a free-speech platform are challenged by the social network’s billion-plus user base around the world, spanning all cultures, beliefs, and demographics.