Back in May, Abdul Batin of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority asked Twitter to block specific URLS, individual Twitter users, and entire search threads because they were “Un-ethical” and “Blasphemous.” He specifically went after random people who were drawing images of Muhammad, mocking the prophet, were openly anti-Islamic or atheist. or suggesting that people burn the Koran. Oh, and he wanted to ban porn star Belle Knox. (Just because.)
The scary thing is that Twitter complied with his requests.
Twitter, which has trumpeted its commitment to free speech, argues that it is a lesser evil to block specific tweets that might violate local laws than to have the entire site blocked in certain countries. The company posts a record of every request it agrees to in the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a database maintained by eight American law schools and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Today, the Ex-Muslims of North America are leading a charge against what they’re calling #TwitterTheocracy.
… we are organizing a day of protest on June 10th to highlight the role Twitter is playing in aiding and promoting anti-freedom, anti-human-rights, theocratic policies.
On June 10th, tweet hashtag #TwitterTheocracy and speak up about how Twitter has chosen to side with theocratic regimes instead of those who are trying to resist those 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.
What can you do to help? Use that hashtag on Twitter. Sign this petition. Speak out against the censorship of dissenters. It doesn’t matter. Just do something.
None of this, in my mind, is anti-Islamic (if you were concerned about that). Moderate Muslims everywhere should be joining us in this campaign. If your faith is unable to deal with mockery or criticism, it’s a weak faith indeed. And for Twitter to allow the silencing of Islam’s critics (and random porn stars) at the behest of one bureaucrat — instead of letting the tweets flourish openly — is letting the opponents of free speech win. It’s true Pakistan has blasphemy laws that could suppress Twitter altogether if it wanted, but the company’s response ought to be, “Do what you want, but we support freedom of expression and we refuse to back down on that principle.”