North Korea-linked Facebook page deleted again

Facebook has removed the page for a violation of the social networking site's terms of use

For the second time in less than a week a Facebook account created by a North Korea-linked Web site has been deleted by the social networking site.

The Uriminzokkiri Web site, a Korean-language portal that carries news and propaganda from North Korea, created its first Facebook account last week, but it was deleted on Friday by Facebook for violating the site's terms of use. A second account was created over the weekend but that too was removed on Monday.

"Facebook is based on real people making real-world connections and people on Facebook will get the most value out of the site by using their real identity," said Kumiko Hidaka, a spokeswoman for Facebook, by e-mail. "So posing as a person or entity you don't officially represent is a violation of our policies, and that's why those profiles in questions have been removed."

She said Facebook judged them against its rules because the accounts were created as profiles. As such they are intended to be used by individuals, and not organizations. For Web sites like Uriminzokkiri that wish to create a presence on Facebook the company has created an account type called a "page."

The accounts have caused controversy in South Korea, which is still technically at war with the north, and prompted the government to warn its citizens not to become Facebook friends with the account.

South Korea blocks much of the information that flows out of the north by Internet, television and radio and threatens those that consume or distribute information from North Korea with strict penalties.

The Facebook account, and companion Twitter and YouTube accounts that were also recently created by Uriminzokkiri, pose a problem for the country because they are hard to block without cutting off access to the entire services.

Last week the government began blocking access to Uriminzokkiri's Twitter page, but the blocking was relatively easy to defeat. Users could connect to Twitter's secure server to see the account, access via the Twitter API or see information that had been retweeted by other users.

The Twitter account, which is entirely in Korean and largely consists of links to articles on the Uriminzokkiri site, its now defunct Facebook account and YouTube videos, has attracted more than 10,000 followers since it was launched earlier this month.

The creation of the Facebook account was noticed by Philip Crowley, a state department spokesman, who commented on his Twitter account: "North Korea has joined Facebook, but will it allow its citizens to belong? What is Facebook without friends?"

Crowley didn't address the ban on friending the account imposed by ally South Korea.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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Martyn Williams

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