For the first time, Twitter has agreed to use its ‘ban specific content in specific countries’ policy in Pakistan. The microblogging site acted on five takedown requests filed by Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority from May 5 to May 14. The requests targeted Twitter accounts as well as controversial tweets that the agency considers as ‘unethical’ or ‘blasphemous’ based on its customs and religious beliefs.
Those included identified Twitter accounts that promote anti-Islamic movements and those that contain unlikely images portraying Prophet Mohammad. Lastly, the request included blocking in the country of the Twitter account of Belle Knox, a Duke University freshman and porn star. Of course, there were also requests for blockage of several other naughty Twitter accounts.
Good shot in Pakistan
The decision to agree to censorship in the country comes at a time when twitter still does not operate an office in Pakistan. It currently has no assets or even employees in the Asian country. There is also no word yet if the company plans to put up presence there in the future.
According to analysts, Twitter is not required to give in to the blocking requests especially if it does not agree with those requests. But they have been amazed at how the Website came to a decision to give way to those requests.
Some observers simply think that Twitter does not want to get into any trouble with the Pakistani government. If it did not agree to block those Twitter sites and messages, it might draw criticism from Pakistani authorities, which in turn can possibly result to blocking of twitter overall in the country. There was precedence for this in the past.
It was in January 2012 when Twitter declared that it would block Twitter accounts and tweets that breach a country’s restrictions on free speech. For instance, in Germany and France, there are rules against pro-Nazi content online. In the US, in contrast, there is no opposition if such content is posted.
In such a provision, Twitter can ban Twitter accounts and tweets that are offensive within the particularly complaining country. The complained about accounts and messages can still be posted and accessed by Twitter users in other countries.
Twitter is yet to make any statement or comment about this issue. But going forward, the Website is expected to remain cooperative with the governments of some countries where there could be complaints in the future against Twitter accounts and messages.