One of the things that makes Twitter so successful is its near constant involvement in political movements around the world. From the Arab spring to Occupy Wall Street to outrage over the latest celebrity drivel, Twitter has been invaluable in giving people a voice and helping them organize rapidly.
So, it has been disappointing for political activists, free speech advocates and people just generally hoping for a better future, to watch Twitter consistently lay down when foreign governments ask them to.
So far, it has blocked Neo-Nazi content in Germany, Ukrainian content in Russia, Government exposés in Turkey, and now what the government calls “Blasphemous” content in Pakistan.
Twitter argues that it is better for the company to block individual pieces of content, rather than be blocked entirely, as happened to the social media site in Turkey temporarily.
Better for their bottom line perhaps, but not for the social movements Twitter was once famous for helping ignite. Selective censorship, as opposed to complete censorship, gives the impression that everything is fine. Pakistani users can still login to Twitter, and if they aren’t plugged into foreign news outlets, may not even be aware that anything is being censored. If the entire site was taken down, at least users would be aware of what is happening and if they found it egregious enough, would be able to demand that their government stop.
As it stands, they are simply helping the Pakistani government pull wool over their citizen’s eyes, all for an order that many are arguing may not be legal under Pakistani law.
And that, is worthy of a #TwitterLaysDown hashtag.
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