Washington DC – June 18th 2014
On June 10, 2014, the Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) organized the #TwitterTheocracy campaign – joined by several international secular organizations – that called into question Twitter’s compliance with Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. As of June 18, 2014, Twitter has since reversed its decision and restored the previously censored tweets and accounts
The goal of the #TwitterTheocracy campaign was to raise awareness about how Twitter’s “country withheld content” tool was being used to block tweets and accounts deemed offensive to religious authorities, at the request of the Pakistani government officials.
Muhammad Syed, Director of Operations at EXMNA said, “While we’re glad that Twitter responded to the #TwitterTheocracy campaign by restoring access to previously censored tweets, we need to ensure that they continue to uphold free speech principles in the future. While this is a victory for proponents of free speech, we must remember that Twitter is not the only major social media outlet which had been pressured to support censorship. The Pakistani government has previously used Facebook’s speedy compliance with takedown notices as justification for continuing the ban on Youtube. It is the responsibility of those of us not living under repressive regimes to ensure that basic rights such as freedom of speech continue to be upheld.”
“We at Ex-Muslims of North America thank Twitter for taking a stand against censorship, and for refusing to use their software to comply with oppressive, theocratic blasphemy laws. Twitter’s actions should strengthen the resolve of other international companies and organizations that find themselves in similar situations. Twitter was forged on the principles of open communication; we are glad to see them once again standing up for freedom of expression, and hope they exercise due diligence in the future should the company receive demands for compliance with oppressive laws again.”, said Nas Ishmael, Director of Media Relations
We applaud all the organizations and individuals who took to the internet to raise their voice and support the EXMNA led #TwitterTheocracy campaign.
The immense outpouring of support from thousands of individuals around the world helped demonstate how important freedom of speech on the internet is and will continue to be in the future.
“Twitter deserves recognition for continuing to stand behind the ideals of free speech and transparency. We hope that Twitter’s move to increase people’s ability broadcast their voices and opinions without fear of censorship, and to therefore stand with those who are resisting oppressive governments, will serve as a model to other social media and traditional media platforms,” said Kiran Opal, Director of Strategic Communications at Ex-Muslims of North America.