Block 'offensive content' or face shutdown: Twitter warned in Pakistan

Twitter is under the scanner in Pakistan for not blocking inappropriate content on its site.

Block 'offensive content' or face shutdown: Twitter warned in Pakistan
Representational image

ISLAMABAD: Micro-blogging website Twitter has been asked to either block offensive content or face a total shutdown in Pakistan, reports said on Thursday.

According to a report in Dawn, the popular micro-blogging site has been warned by the establishment to filter content which the government feels is ''unfit for public consumption''.

Twitter has been under the scanner in Pakistan over its alleged inaction in blocking inappropriate content on its site.

On Wednesday, Pak­istan Telecommuni­cation Authority (PTA) had informed the Senate Standing Com­mittee on Cabinet Secre­tariat that a similar request was made to other popular social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube etc which responded positively.

However, Twitter did not oblige and failed to comply with the government's repeated request to block objectionable content on its website, the PTA said.

The reports quoted the Director General of PTA’s Internet Policy and Web Analysis, Nisar Ahmed as saying that out of several hundred requests from the government to block certain objectionable content, roughly five percent were entertained by Twitter. 

''The popular micro-blogging site ignores all the remaining requests,” he told the Senate Committee.

Ahmed made these submissions during a meeting of the committee on penalties fixed by the PTA against ‘derogatory’ comments spreading through social media targeting the state, its citizens and its institutions.

During the briefing, Ahmed also informed the Senate Committee that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had last week directed the PTA to issue a final notice to Twitter, asking the website to either entertain the government's requests or face the risk of being blocked in the country.

The senior PTA officials also stated that Twitter was not as popular as Facebook and that's why the website has not much to lose.

However, Twitter would certainly lose business if it was shut down in the country, the PTA official told the Senate Committee members. 

As compared to Twitter, Ahmed said that Facebook had been extremely cooperative with Pakistan, and had obliged when asked to block content that might be perceived offensive.

The move to block Twitter has evoked sharp reactions from Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, which said that ''it was against any kind of censorship on free media.''