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Blasphemous Tweets Now Visible To Pakistanis On Twitter

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Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) announced Tuesday that it has restored access to dozens of tweets and accounts within Pakistan. The microblogging company had blocked them on May 18 after receiving a request from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. Government officials had complained that much of the material they wanted to be taken down mocked Islam. PTA had claimed last month that those tweets and accounts were “unethical,” “blasphemous,” and violated the country’s Penal Code.

Twitter reverses its decision as PTA officials fail to provide clarification

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) said in a statement on the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse website that it has changed its May 18 decision after the government officials failed to provide sufficient clarification. The move was hailed by free speech activists across the globe. Last month when the Internet company decided to comply with local laws, the Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized the company, saying that Twitter had “stepped down from the free speech party.”

For Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), it was a better choice to comply with the local law rather than having its entire platform blocked in the country. Turkey had banned the San Francisco-based company’s entire site when the company tried to defend free speech. Chilling Effects is a collaboration between the U.S. law schools. It monitors attempts to suppress online content.

Twitter received 377 requests in last six months of 2013

Sana Saleem, the co-founder of non-profit free speech advocacy group Bolo Bhi said she is glad Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has reversed its decision, instead of going the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) route. Notably, earlier this month, Facebook had blocked the page of Pakistani band Laal upon the government’s request. Members of the liberal band have frequently spoken out against the Taliban. After massive protests by activists, Facebook had to reverse its decision.

Sana Saleem and other activists have questioned whether the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has the constitutional power to make such requests to foreign companies. They are demanding greater judicial oversight. In its latest transparency report, Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) said that it had received 377 requests to remove content in 17 countries in the last six months of 2013. The company had to comply in 123 cases.

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) shares gained 0.24% to $38.11 in pre-market trading Wednesday.

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