Facebook does U-turn on atheist group ban

2015-01-12 10:02 - Duncan Alfreds, Fin24
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Facebook. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Cape Town - Facebook has reinstated a popular group on the social network after fans erupted when it was banned.

The group, Atheist Republic, was banned on January 8 for contravening the social network's terms of use.

"The group 'Atheist Republic' has been removed because it violates our terms of use," Facebook said in a terse message that accused the group with 54 000 members of "hateful, threatening or obscene behaviour".

However, fans rallied to have the banning reversed and on Sunday, Facebook relented.

"This would not have been possible without the unbelievably huge amount of support we received. Thank you to all the members who didn't give up the fight to get their community back," wrote the group's founder Armin Navabi.

The issue of religious tolerance has been highlighted recently with the fatal hostage drama that played out in Paris as well as the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Facebook is keenly aware that users of its massive social network with 1.3 billion users supports a diverse cultural and social discourse and actively manages communications to avoid giving or allowing offence.

Despite the secular support for the cartoons in French weekly Charlie Hebdo, a number of mainstream publications including The New York Times have declined to publish the content.

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