Social media site says it reversed its decision after Islamabad failed to provide clarification on censorship requests.
Twitter has restored access inside Pakistan to dozens of tweets and accounts, after blocking them last month following official complaints about “blasphemous” content, in a move hailed by free speech activists.
The microblogging site said it had changed its May 18 decision—to restrict access to the material from within Pakistan in order to comply with local laws—after the government failed to provide sufficient clarification.
“On May 18, 2014, we made an initial decision to withhold content in Pakistan based on information provided to us by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority,” the Internet company said in a statement posted on the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse website. “We have re-examined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, have determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted. The content is now available again in Pakistan.”
Chilling Effects is a collaboration between several U.S. law schools, which monitors attempts to suppress online content. Twitter works in partnership with the site to publicize requests to withhold its content.
Most of the offending material concerned anti-Islam accounts and an annual online competition to draw caricatures of Islam’s Prophet, but the accounts of three U.S. porn stars were also listed.
Facebook earlier this month blocked the popular page of a liberal Pakistani band Laal at the request of the government, angering activists campaigning against censorship. Days later it reversed its decision.
Several non-governmental organizations have questioned whether the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has the constitutional authority to forward such requests to foreign Internet companies, and have called for greater judicial oversight. They also claim that Islamabad has used censorship to suppress political criticism and dissent in the past.