#TwitterTheocracy Trends To Fight Pakistan's Censorship Of "Blasphemous" Tweets
In May, Abdul Batin, a Pakistani bureaucrat, convinced Twitter to block from Pakistan what he felt were blasphemous tweets. According to The New York Times, the "unethical" tweets included cartoons of Mohammed, images of Qur'ans burning, and remarks about the Duke student porn star. Twitter banned the content on the basis that it was in line with their country withheld content policy, which states that content can be removed if it violates "applicable local laws." Pakistan's IT regulator now has a website page, where such "blasphemous" content can be reported.
On Tuesday, the Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), a group that represents former-Muslims in North America, launched a social media campaign to call Twitter out for its censorship. The EXMNA called for Twitter-users to tweet the hashtag "#TwitterTheocracy" all day on Tuesday.
While the campaign appears to have been sparked by the Pakistani controversy, the EXMNA points out that Pakistan is not the only country in which Twitter has withheld content. In the past, Twitter has blocked neo-Nazi tweets in Germany and nationalist Ukrainian tweets in Russia. In a post from June 4, EXMNA urged Twitter-users to sign a petition and help #TwitterTheocracy go viral.
Twitter users, secularists, and those who care about human rights expect Twitter to be better than oppressive, theocratic regimes. Twitter was forged on the principles of open communication. Now, it has compromised the principles of freedom of expression in selected regions of the world. We must stand against this selective hypocrisy.
So how did the hashtag do?