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Wednesday 1 April 2020

Twitter defends suspending 200 Pakistani handles

Twitter, has maintained that it enforced policies judiciously and ensured impartiality of all users, regardless of their political beliefs

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Islamabad: Twitter, which suspended about 200 accounts of Pakistanis posting about the Kashmir issue, has denied allegations of bias by Islamabad, saying that it enforced policies judiciously and ensured impartiality of all users.

The Pakistani government on Monday complained to Twitter about 200 accounts that have been suspended for posting about the Kashmir issue. Over the last week, multiple Pakistanis have taken to Twitter to report that accounts were being suspended after they posted about Kashmir. Twitter, however, has maintained that it enforced policies judiciously and ensured impartiality of all users, regardless of their political beliefs and country of origin.

Responding to allegations of censorship and biased moderation on its platform, a Twitter spokesperson told the Dawn newspaper that they were founded on the principles of free expression and there was no political bias in its content review teams that determine what content is considered a violation of its rules.

We believe people on all sides of an issue have a fundamental right to discuss them within the boundaries of our policies, which prohibit terrorism, hateful conduct, platform manipulation and abuse. At Twitter no one is above our rules, the spokesperson said. Unlike Facebook, which has the greatest number of fact-checking partners in India, Twitter is yet to introduce a policy on political misinformation, the report said.

Twitter exists to serve the public conversation, including in national and regional events of political importance, the official said. However, the spokesperson did not comment on the reasons that led to certain accounts specified in the email being suspended.

We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons, the official said. Pakistanis have been reacting on various social media accounts after India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has lodged a complaint with Twitter’s regional office over the suspension of accounts. We are approaching this case with a multi-pronged strategy where PTA has sent the complaint mentioning [200] accounts to the regional office seeking an explanation for their suspension.

We are also working on a long-term strategy through the National IT Board (NITB) so that such a situation does not arise again, Arslan Khalid, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Focal Person on Digital Media, was quoted as saying in the report. Khalid said that Twitter held no right to moderate political debates on its platform which were well within its community guidelines.

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