Twitter Agrees to Block Blasphemous Content in Pakistan


Unlike YouTube and Google, Twitter reportedly agreed to block 5 instances of blasphemous tweets for its users with-in Pakistan, reported New York Times.

Report said that tweets in question – which are no longer available with-in geographical boundaries of Pakistan – were requested for removal from an official of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

This Islamabad based PTA official had approached Twitter with specific tweets and reasons for them to be blocked in the country.

Twitter, while agreeing to the fact that tweets were blasphemous or otherwise unethical in nature, confirmed PTA official that company is willing to block the content with-in Pakistan.

These tweets involved blasphemous content, anti-Quran tweets and messages against Islam from anti-Islam bloggers and an American porn star.

PTA confirmed ProPakistani that there were three twitter accounts and a search query that were requested for removal.

ProPakistani was also communicated these three Twitter handles that were requested by PTA for blockade and we can confirm that all three Twitter accounts are now shown as suspended with-in Pakistan.

The blocking of these tweets and accounts in Pakistan is in line with the country-specific censorship policy that Twitter unveiled in 2012.

Twitter, when asked about its commitment to free speech, justified that its better to block specific content with-in a specific state where such content is illegal as per local laws instead of getting the whole website blocked there.

Twitter agreed to block such blasphemous tweets in Pakistan after thoroughly investigating the type and nature of tweets.

Not to forget, Google has been denying to block the blasphemous content available on its video sharing website, which is blocked in Pakistan for the same reason since September 2012.

It merits mentioning here that “Bolo Bhi” a Karachi based activist group with focus on Internet Freedom has termed this whole act of blocking blasphemous tweets in Pakistan as illegal.

Bolo Bhi was quoted by New York Times as saying that legitimacy of the requests forwarded by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to Twitter is questionable. It said that the law that defines the regulator’s power, does not in any form give PTA the authority to arbitrarily restrict content on the Internet.

Tech and telecom reporter with over 15 years of experience, he works as founder of ProPakistani.PK

    • I think they raise imporant point. Under what law can PTA block tweets? Just name the law.

      • i dont want to start any argument with you, i know you like this kind of stuff..

        • If government says they can snatch your house and car then you would want to know under what law.

          If government says they can prevent you from reading stuff online, then you should also want to know under what law.

          Well, at least **I** would want to know. You are sheeple, you’ll do whatever the government tells you to do.

          • I totally agree with you here, if they have guts, they must get all that content removed world wide, their is no point of blocking it in a country, where no one is interested in it. Before this post I never knew, something like that exists on twitter. Govt must seriously review their tactics.

  • bolo bhi is a bull shit group put them in hell with there freedom. Good work by twitter.

  • Bolo bhi is no more than a bull shit. Tell them to establish their group in EU countries and protest against Holocaust. Good work by twitter

  • Bolo bhi magar toolo bhi…they talk about freedom of speach but what about muslim’s rights and respect?

    • Bolo bhi wants Muslims to be able to go online and defend their religion in the face of attacks, no matter on what the forum: Twitter, Youtube, wherever. This agreement prevents Muslims from doing that.

      So, yes, they not only talk about freedom of speech, but also try to ensure that we’re aware of the speech we’re giving up to our government.

      • Simply,if other dont understand my religion they should keep their freedom of speach with there self!

        • I don’t believe you understand what you’re saying. You’re saying two things: that it is okay for people to blaspheme online as long as you don’t see evidence of it; and that you’re not interested in defending Islam and Muhammad (PBUH) from attacks online.

          If the government doesn’t ask Twitter to hide the tweets, then you’re free to view the tweets and flag them or respond to them. As it is now, the government is preventing you from responding to attacks to something you claim to hold dear. How is that a good thing? It’s your freedom to respond that is taken away, not their freedom to blaspheme.

          • I totally agree, its like taking our freedoms away, its like taking our ability retaliate against and convince people to see the other side of picture

          • And what about when there would be another episode of large scale violence in country protesting against this blasphemy with support of everyone who witnessed it over the internet since it should be readily available as per your logic (of having ability to defend) – Do you think an already fragile country can take up another such incident or a series of those, giving us huge losses in terms of life and finance.

            Public Administration is a complex subject. Human beings are complex creatures they have sentiments, feelings, emotions, they love and they hate, they have anger and they rage, the level of each varies among different communities on different issues. All of this should be taken into account when you make a Public level decision for a particular community of Humans….. Not just simple logic.

            Now in my opinion what PTA did in this particular case was good. But what bolo bhi group say is also valid that if law or some sort of legal framework does not exists for such requests / blocks then soon this method will be abused.

  • Twitter has taken very right decision, similar steps have been taken by dailymotion as well few days ago. There is also a lesson for youtube they must have to take care of our culture and tradition like they are doing for rest of the world

  • The issues here are whether both Twitter and our government will only block such “blasphemous” content, and who gets to decide what is blasphemy and what isn’t. Clearly Twitter cannot make that decision for us, which leads us to depending on our own government to do the right thing.

    What are the details of the agreement? Who is responsible for making the decision for what should be blocked? What are the criteria? Will Twitter reject such requests if they decide the content is political or social in nature but not blasphemy?

    As an example of where this has gone wrong, for a lot of PTCL users the hollywood reporter site is blocked. Can anyone tell us if that has blasphemy on it? Or anti-Pakistan sentiments? It’s just a site with movie reviews and info about upcoming movies. I’ve personally reported at least three sites to the PTCLCares account in recent weeks and had them unblocked in a matter of 24 hours. This leads me to wonder why those sites blocked in the first place if they were so easily unblocked.

    More worryingly, I’ve also got in touch with them about two services what were blocked without any warning by the “agencies” (as they say), and both those services were blocked for days before being unblocked. One was the Internet Archive’s Wayback machine, and the other was fastly’s CDN network a couple of months ago. We still don’t know why they were blocked, or why they were reopened. This is not a good trend.

  • Very strange that our government didn’t try to block any pro-militant accounts or tweets… Even I know that a pro-Waziristani facebook page was taken down on Facebook last month but due to USERS flagging the account and content they posted, not because our government asked them to.

    So why is our government even afraid to go after militants on social media? Very very odd.

    • Glad to hear it. Now, what about Google, the company that owns Youtube? Will you stop using Google?

  • Very good Twitter. Hurting audience’s sentiments can hurt their business so they have made a smart business choice.

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