Today Pakistan’s government blocked Twitter on the premise that micro-blogging site is helping promote blasphemous content on the internet. According to my faith, blasphemy is despicable and unpardonable act. No sane person can condone dishonoring the holy prophets, be it Muhammad (PBUH) or Christ (PBUH). But the hasty decision of blocking Twitter is ridiculous, short-sighted and childish.
Twitter is unintelligent micr0-blogging site. Any body can tweet any thing and Twitter is equal opportunity updater. It does not discriminate automatically on the basis of individual faiths and values. Any body can tweet any thing blasphemous about Christ or Moses and it will allow the tweeting unless large number of people report the account or tweets.
There are thousands of social networking sites and question arises which sites government will block. Internet world is flooded with sacrilegious or adult content and governments cannot stop it spreading by mere blocking.
What the government should have done?
- Raise an army of volunteers whose job should be to report the accounts spreading blasphemy so that Twitter takes action. Twitter takes immediate action on violation of its policy.
- Promote the usage of Twitter so that more and more positive tweets inundate the micro-blogging site. One flicker of candle can wipe out darkness in the room. Positivity will subdue the negativity if it is in more quantity.
- Buy and promote certain hashtags to spread positivity.
- Write to Twitter management to be sensitive to the religious feelings.
Twitter is gaining popularity in Pakistan and particularly youth is getting very active. Celebrities, anchors and politicians are profusely using Twitter to promote their message. But in population of 180 million people, hardly there are 1 million tweeples and active number will not be more than 10,000. Usage of Twitter is already shamelessly low. In my workshops, when I ask participants who is on Twitter, a very few people raise their hands.
Pakistan should leverage the power of Twitter rather than getting swept away by the negative content. Banning Twitter does not going to make any dent to Twitter nor it is denying access to experienced Twitter users. There are hundreds of third party applications which makes tweeting and retweeting possible and government cannot ban such applications.
Social networking sites are like multi-headed hydra. You cut one head and many heads appear. The government could have sought advice of social media experts before taking this frivolous decision.
Ashraf Chaudhry is Pakistan’s top Twitterholic and social media expert. He is CEO of Pakistan’s leading social media company Redback Spiders. He tweets extensively @ashraf_chaudhry. More than 28000 people across the globe including President Barack Obama follow him. For any advice on how to handle Twitter, please contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
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