Tajikistan bans Facebook over 'filth' and 'slander'

Tajikistan has banned access to Facebook, the state communication service announced on Tuesday, saying the ban came in response to complaints from its nationals about a 'deluge of lies' on the Internet, including ‘insults’ against the government.

The closure of the world's most popular social network came after Tajik authorities had repeatedly shut down Facebook for short periods of time including for a week in March.

"Lately there have been too many insults on Facebook of the head of state (President Emomali Rakhmon) and government members," an official of the state-run communications service said.

"Members of the public, respected and famous figures who are upset that unknown, anonymous users pour forth filth and spread slander on Facebook pages have repeatedly petitioned our service," said the official.

"That is why we've banned the network in the country," said the official.

The ban took effect from Monday. All nine of the country's Internet providers will have to respect the order or face closure.

More than 40,000 people including students and even some government members use the hugely popular social networking site in the impoverished country of some eight million people, which borders Afghanistan.

After the week-long ban in March, authorities allowed access to Facebook following an outcry from international organisations like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Reporters Without Borders.

Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia ruled by Rakhmon since 1992, will hold presidential elections next year, and many fear the authorities may further tighten control of the Internet in the coming months.

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