Activists in Egypt say that two opposition group pages, each with 100,000s of followers, were removed from social network Facebook.
The news comes just days before the country holds its election, in which President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party is widely expected to win. According to the Reuters news agency, the activists suspect government involvement in the suspension of the Facebook pages but have no direct proof.
The English version of one page, dedicated to deceased activist Khaled Said, claims that “a wave of malicious reports was sent about [it] with false accusations”, prompting Facebook to delete the page in question.
Facebook says that it temporarily took down the pages in question due to the "status of an account used to administer two particular pages" and "an issue related to a script used on a further page".
"These actions are entirely normal and result from the extensive security systems we have in place to protect users on the site," Facebook’s head of PR in the UK and Ireland Sophy Silver told Information Age.
"We have been working with political and human rights groups both inside and outside of Egypt since this was brought to our attention to explain the measures they need to take to keep their accounts and associated activity within the site rules," she said. "This has led to the two large pages that were of most concern being reinstated."
The group ‘We are all Khaled Said’ said on its website that it would look for alternative platforms for its activism following the incident. “Very soon we will be looking at different means to get all Egyptian activists who want to stand up peacefully for their human rights together on a different platform to Facebook,” it said.