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June 11, 2014

Activists fight Twitter censorship in Pakistan with #TwitterTheocracy

Secularists launched an online protest against Twitter for blocking "blasphemous" content in Pakistan.

Image via Atheists.org.

Ex-Muslims of North America, or EXMNA, asked Twitter users to join Tuesday's campaign using hashtag #TwitterTheocracy to target what they say is Twitter's compliance with Pakistan censorship laws. 

Related:  Twitter blocks 'blasphemous' tweets at Pakistan's request

Truth be told, we love @twitter. It's because we value its role, that we want to ensure it doesn't sell-out to theocrats. #TwitterTheocracyExMuslims N. America
The censorship watchdog site chillingeffects.org reports that in May Twitter used its Country Withheld Content Tool in Pakistan for the first time, blocking certain accounts and tweets. Earlier that month, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority filed five requests to block content with Twitter.

EXMNA and other secular groups have called this a strike against freedom of speech, and criticised Twitter for siding with a repressive regime. #TwitterTheocracy has been used almost 10,000 times since Tuesday: 
The main reason to be on twitter is the freedom of speech. Take that away and it's just another useless application. #TwitterTheocracyAnakim
Is Pakistan really a failed state? Debatable but anyway its absurd blasphemy laws don't deserve support from Twitter #TwitterTheocracyRichard Dawkins
Will @twitter side with free speech or with theocratic censorship? Let's watch. #TwitterTheocracyZack Zack
While many of the tweets blasted Twitter for bowing to pressure from Pakistan, some people defended the social media platform for following the country's law: 
@kitsonde @MrOzAtheist It's simple. f twitter doesn't do thing according to pakistan's wishes, they won't exist there at all. It's a tradeBelligerent Ninja
@TomUytt @RichardDawkins @twitter to be clear, i think the stifling of free speech is abhorrent, but is it @twitter’s place to ignore law?Tony Lukasavage
.@danieldennett @clairlemon it's better to have something than nothing. Twitter can't help Pakistanis if it's banned entirely!Misha G. PHD.
Kudos to @twitter for adhering to tolerance and respect of other cultures. This is a win for civilized behavior. #TwitterTheocracyThe Gadfly
What do you think about Twitter censoring content in Pakistan ? Tell us your thoughts.