Twitter’s ‘Tweets Must Flow’ policy states that the company understands that as they grow internationally, they have the possibility of entering into a country, which has laws surrounding how much freedom of expression is allowed. Says the policy:
Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, 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.
And this is what’s happening in Pakistan, as Twitter has received notices from the country’s government offices to take down “blasphemous” and “unethical” tweets. Two years ago, similar content led Pakistan to deploy a site ban against twitter.com.
The time Twitter’s policy on censorship was enforced was in 2012 in Germany, which saw a Neo-Nazi group – which are illegal in Germany—banned from the social network. Twitter’s attempts to remain as transparent as possible are admirable, however Pakistan’s oppressive laws on blasphemy have become increasingly brutal.
Such enforcement has led in arrests, assassination attempts and even murder, which why it makes it particularly concerning that Twitter is complying with them. The defense of the company is that they would rather a small number of tweets prevail than have the whole site blocked.
Just last month, Twitter came under pressure and ultimately cowed to the Turkish government in the face of an outright ban if the social company did not shut down accounts that government deemed ‘harmful’.
Image via latuffcartoons