It was a wonderful Sunday yesterday with beautiful weather in Islamabad. I was enjoying my relax hours during weekend – longtime readers know that we usually don’t work on weekends – when a friend called me to tell that Twitter is blocked in Pakistan due to Draw Mohammad Day.
Honestly, I didn’t know of Draw Mohammad Day until that moment and would have never known of it if access to Twitter wasn’t blocked in Pakistan.
Just to ask you – did you know of it? Please vote below:
Government of Pakistan say that Twitter didn’t respond positively to their request for removal of content which could be blasphemous in nature, and hence they had no option but to completely block the website in Pakistan.
Facebook, on other hands, complied with the government’s demands and made sure that no blasphemous content would reach Pakistani audience.
It is evident that government’s action of blocking twitter was to restrict the access of blasphemous content. But you will agree that it didn’t work. Instead, the blockade acted like an advertisement for Draw Mohammad Day by recalling everyone – even those who had forgotten this evil day.
Moreover, if authorities concerned may know, Twitter doesn’t host pictures itself, rather it uses other services for hosting images. Hence chances of circulation of blasphemous content were minimal, as we got no reports of circulation of blasphemous content even when Twitter was un-banned later in the night.
Having said this, I must note here that Twitter isn’t angel in itself too. Twitter, earlier in January 2012, had announced that it could filter content (tweets) by country – to meet local laws and standards.
Twitter had Noted following in a blog post:
Starting today (January 26th, 2012), we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.
Then why not to block tweets in Pakistan? Maybe they took Pakistani government lightly, or even worse, Pakistan government probably couldn’t communicate the need properly. We don’t know what was the case.
ProPakistani is awaiting a reply from Twitter to learn what exactly Government of Pakistan had asked for.
So what did we achieve by banning Twitter? Only one thing: Bad press.
Blocking internet (twitter, Facebook or any other website or service) is considered as vital as a plane crash. Whole world covers it; every website, newspaper, magazine, tabloid will curse you for blocking internet.
I will recommend authorities concerned to make sure that blocking something is worth it. For instance, Draw Mohammad Day on Facebook was harmful indeed. Ridiculous cartoons had started appearing in news feeds. They were popping up whenever someone commented on it (even when cursing the cartoonist), or when your friends were tagging you to report the image and so on.
But twitter has different mechanism. Like, you can’t tag someone, images won’t pop up if a friend of yours comment there or reports it, unless he retweets it. Twitter is all-together a different thing. And above all – Twitter isn’t as big as Facebook, locally or globally.
So we will have to evaluate the decision and its impacts, the bad name it could earn for you. Is it all worth while or you are just shooting in the air to earn nothing.