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Facebook mum on Mideast protest role

Facebook mum on Mideast protest role
A general view shows crowds and traffic at Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the popular revolt that drove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power, as people camping out in the square begin to leave, February 13, 2011. Mubarak left office on Friday after 30 years. UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Officials at Facebook have indicated they don't want to discuss the role social media played in the revolts that toppled the governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

Elliot Schrage, vice president for global communications, public policy and marketing, declined to comment on use of Facebook by activists seeking democratic change, The New York Times reported.

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"Certainly, technology was a vital tool in their efforts," Schrage said, "but we believe their bravery and determination mattered most."

Facebook's policy of requiring users to sign up with their real identities is something the company has refused to change even though human rights activists complain it could put some people at risk.

Facebook shut down one of the most popular Egyptian Facebook protest pages in November because Google executive Wael Ghonim, who emerged as a symbol of the revolt, had used a pseudonym to create a profile as one of the administrators of the page.

Last week, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., urged Facebook to protect human rights activists who use its services, including addressing concerns about not being able to use pseudonyms.

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