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Facebook has responded to a proposed Italian law that could see the social networking site forced to censor its members' postings and groups.

The row started when Italian media noticed fan groups for convicted mafia members on Facebook. Although these are heavily outnumbered by groups of fans supporting prosecutors, the rumpus led Italian senator Gianpiero D’Alia to draft a law which would give the Interior Ministry the power to order internet service providers to remove web pages it doesn't like.

But a Facebook spokesdroid told Bloomberg that this would be like closing an entire railway network just because of offensive graffiti at one station. She added that Facebook would always remove any content promoting violence and already had a takedown procedure in place.

D’Alia told the newswire he only wanted individual pages removed, but this might prove impossible for ISPs to do effectively.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said in December that he wanted to use his presidency of the G8 to regulate the internet. Berlusconi - with a virtual monopoly on the rest of the Italian media - has been frequently criticised for silencing opponents of his regime. ®

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