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Facebook faces calls to remove page

Facebook is under pressure in Australia to take down a page that insults Aborigines.

The government has accused the social networking company of using its US base to avoid Australian anti-discrimination laws.

The Aboriginal Memes Facebook page has created a furore in Australia this week with its depictions of indigenous Australians as drunks and welfare cheats.

Australia's media watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, is investigating complaints about the page and Race Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke said it could breach Australian anti-discrimination laws.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said his office had called on Facebook's Sydney office to take the page down. But he said the page had recently been reclassified "controversial humour" and that Facebook maintained it did not adjudicate on humour.

Mr Conroy said the creator of the page, whom he believed was a 16-year-old Australian living in the west coast city of Perth, was getting around Australian anti-discrimination laws through US guarantees of free speech.

"We don't live by American laws here in Australia; we live by Australian laws and this is an Australian who is using the fact that Facebook is based in the US to get away from Australian laws," Mr Conroy told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television. "Facebook should take this site down," he added.

He said Australia had tried to get Australian court orders enforced in the US against Facebook and other websites in the past, but "we've got nowhere."

Facebook said in a statement issued by its Sydney office that it sometimes restricts access to content that violates local law and was engaged in a constructive dialogue with Ms Szoke.

"We believe that sharing information and the openness that results invites conversation, debate and greater understanding. At the same time we recognise that some content that is shared may be controversial, offensive or even illegal in some countries," the statement said.

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