Trade on Facebook counting losses
Viper, a Bangladeshi brand of leather goods that does its business on Facebook, lost more than 90 percent of its business in the last three days after the government blocked the social media platform.
Mostafizur Rahaman, owner of Viper, said they have two other physical outlets in the city but most of his business came from Facebook.
“Every week I usually spend around $100 on Facebook campaigns and now it has halted completely,” Mostafizur said.
Saiful Islam, an entrepreneur of AmarGadget.com, pioneer of the country's Facebook-commerce initiative, said his company's sales came down more than 70 percent because of the ban on Facebook.
“Recently, I changed my business policy from f-commerce [Facebook-commerce] to e-commerce that's why it is not hurting me that much, but the people who are only depending on f-commerce, their sales dropped to around 5 percent,” said Saiful.
e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) said around 7,500 active Facebook pages were doing business in the country and there were 600 web pages also running online businesses. And all them were affected by the suspension of Facebook in Bangladesh.
On Wednesday, the telecom regulator asked all telecom and internet service providers to stop Facebook, online messaging and calling services WhatsApp and Viber immediately, just after the Supreme Court rejected pleas of top war criminals Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed seeking review of death penalty awarded to them.
Razib Ahmed, president of e-CAB, said f-commerce has completely collapsed after the Facebook blocked. As other online businesses were linked to Facebook, those were also affected.
Next Friday would be Black Friday, the biggest annual sale, and lots of sites had planed to offer 30 to 50 percent discounts and all their plans were almost out the window, said Razib.
All three online entrepreneurs said they were aware of the country's current situation and they also want security for all but at the same time they also want their businesses to be secure.
Market sources said the ban on Facebook commerce has had a knock on effect on courier, payment gateways, and tourism business.
“We found lots of Facebook pages running social activities, like blood donations, but they can't do anything now,” said Saiful.
State Minister for Telecommu-nication Tarana Halim said security was the main priority and they were focusing on that.
“We are sorry for the inconvenience of the users, even I am suffering for it but we need to understand the situation,” Tarana had said a few days ago.
She said users who use Facebook bypassing the ban were under watch.
“The government has blocked Facebook and online messaging services WhatsApp and Viber until further notice on security grounds. The state authorities have been monitoring the people who are using those with alternatives ways,” said Tarana.
In Bangladesh, Facebook use began in the second half of 2006. And currently there are 1.8 crore and counting users.