Twitter bans dozens of 'blasphemous' tweets and accounts in Pakistan: Report

Microblogging site Twitter has blocked dozens of tweets and accounts in Pakistan after officials asked for access to “blasphemous” and “unethical” content to be stopped.


The Pakistan Telecommunications Au-thority submitted at least five requests from May 5 to 14 asking Twitter to block access to specific tweets and accounts for users in the Islamic republic.


It is thought to be the first time Twitter has withheld content specifically for users in Pakistan, though the government has shut the site down in the past.


Most of the offending material concerned anti-Islam accounts and an annual online competition to draw caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, but the accounts of three United States’ porn stars were also listed.


Religion in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the population are Muslims, is extremely sensitive and images of the prophet, which are forbidden in Islam, cause grave offence.


Pakistan blocked Twitter completely for a brief period in May 2012, along with Facebook, over the same competition.But according to the website Chilling Effects Clearinghouse the latest episode is the first time Twitter has agreed to withhold content for users in Pakistan.


Chilling Effects is a collaboration between several US law schools which monitors attempts to suppress online content. Twitter works in partnership with the site to publish requests to withhold its content.


Attempts by AFP in Islamabad to access the material in question were met with messages saying the content was withheld in Pakistan.


In its requests to Twitter, PTA described the content, which also included images of the Quran being desecrated, as “blasphemous” and “unethical” and said it violated the Pakistani penal code.


Perceived insults to Islam and the prophet can provoke violent public reactions in Pakistan.



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