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Mark Zuckeberg issues Facebook free speech vow in Charlie Hebdo tribute despite extremist death threats

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

January 9, 2015 | 4 min read

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that he has in the past received death threats from extremists in Pakistan over the social network’s reluctance to ban content and images portraying the Prophet Muhammed.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook chief executive

This morning (9 January), Zuckerberg discussed his experience with extremist threats on the social network in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attack that saw 12 people killed by armed extremists.

Zuckerberg said: “A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Mohammed that offended him. We stood up for this because different voices - even if they're sometimes offensive - can make the world a better and more interesting place.”

The Facebook chief admitted the company follows the laws of each country but never lets “one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world”.

Speaking on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, Zuckerberg said: “As I reflect on yesterday's attack and my own experience with extremism, this is what we all need to reject - a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone else around the world.

“I won't let that happen on Facebook. I'm committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence.”

He concluded: “My thoughts are with the victims, their families, the people of France and the people all over the world who choose to share their views and ideas, even when that takes courage. ‪#‎JeSuisCharlie”

In the days following the attack, Facebook and Twitter hosted a social media vigil tributing the fallen in the Charlie Hebdo attack using #JeSuisCharlie.

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