Do you use Twitter? Because I sure do. I’m an addict! So much it interferes with everything I do. Scratch that, tweeting IS everything I do. But imagine what would happen if you couldn’t access Twitter. I would sure go insane, unable to check the latest news on my favorite things. If you’re in Pakistan, however, you might experience a block every now and then. Just recently the Pakistani authorities have “unblocked” Twitter. The block lasted for a few hours, and the authorities have block the social mediate website because they thought the messages posted on Twitter were “offensive to Islam”.
That is very interesting, because I have quite a few Muslim friends on Twitter, and all of them simply adore the website. On the other hand, the website might have been responsible for posting offensive content, but no one knows what it was that set the Pakistani authorities off. Allegations claim that it happened because of tweets about a 2010 competition on Facebook that required submitting images depicting the Prophet Muhammad, while Islam forbids images of the prophet. The Twitter ban was lifted on Sunday, May 20th by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.
The ban was not welcomed by the international community as the Human Rights Watch announced that the ban was “ill-advised, counterproductive and futile”. Nevertheless, just like many people still manage to access Facebook in China despite the fact that it is banned, a lot of users were also able to access Twitter by using software that allows the user to hide his location.
It’s not the first time that a website is blocked in Pakistan. Thousands of websites have been blocked in the country over the past year. Pornographic and the so-called “anti-state” websites were targeted and blocked without a single warning. Even BBC’s World News channel was taken out for a few months; because the Pakistani government considered something they saw on the channel to be objectionable.
Whatever it might be, even though I have a clear opinion on the matter, when I see news like that, I always remember that there are two sides of the same coin. Despite the fact, that blocking such websites like Twitter might be a violation of fundamental human rights and freedom of speech, some governments think they have a right to do so, in order to ensure that their societies are safe and secure. After all, they do say that ignorance is bliss, and some people cannot handle properly the information they acquaint themselves with, but… in the end, who should have the right to decide which information should be released and which should be withheld from the public?