Twitter censorship targeted with hashtag activism

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A coalition of secular organisations has launched a campaign to protest Twitter’s censorship of so-called “blasphemous” tweets in Pakistan. Accusing the company of being a #TwitterTheocracy, campaigners want the company to “uphold human rights-based standards of conduct, particularly when it comes to freedom of expression”.

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Bob Churchill, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union explained why it is important:

“The idea that it is better to have censored access to social media and search, rather than none at all, is debatable. The blasphemy law in Pakistan is widely used to harass minorities, and to suppress free speech which, for example, legitimately criticises certain religious authorities or practices. Any company which gains business in a state by cooperating with laws like this is complicit.

“It’s not just about censorship in Pakistan, or abstract concerns about freedom of belief. It’s about the growing number of people in jail on death row under permanent threat of execution, it’s about mob killings of those accused of ‘blasphemy’, it’s about a permanent state of fear that prevents questioning and progress for the religious and the non-religious alike.

“I know Twitter posts take-down requests to another site but that’s not good enough. That’s not really taking a stand, not when the stakes are so high.”

To protest, they want users to sign a petition and use the hashtag #TwitterTheocracy.

Sometimes Twitter “Hashtag Activism” is accused of not working but hey, when you’re protesting against Twitter… then that’s the one place they might actually listen.

James O’Malley