April 22, 2019

Twitter briefly suspends accounts of a Pakistani newspaper

ISLAMABAD: Two twitter accounts linked to a Pakistani newspaper Daily Pakistan were briefly suspended by Twitter.

According to Waqas Ahmed, who is  one of the Social media editors managing twitter account for Daily Pakistan English, the social media giant suspended both the Urdu service and English service twitter accounts “without even telling us which rules we violated”.

Calling it a “blatant censorship and an attack on free press”, Mr Ahmed urged Twitter to explain the reasons for suspension.

Hours after the suspension, the accounts were restored by Twitter. Digital Rights Monitor, DRM,  reached out to Twitter to know more about the reasons for suspension. Talking to DRM,  a twitter representative said that the accounts were “limited in error” and that they had communicated this to the account owners.

Mr. Ahmed expressed annoyance at the Twitter’s  response and said, “If twitter takes this position and claims they suspend accounts ‘in error’ without coordinating with owners first, we might file a case first.” He added that they would take up this matter with government too.

Earlier, speaking to DRM, Mr. Ahmed shared that he first found about the suspension around 9 AM on Tuesday.  He said that as part of organization’s social media strategy, twitter accounts were set up a couple of years ago and had garnered a huge following in a short span. He added that the twitter account linked to their Urdu service had around 50,000 followers whereas the English service twitter account had around 8000 followers.

However, Mr. Waqas expressed frustration at the lack of clarity on Twitter’s part to intimate them and explain what had caused the suspension of Twitter accounts. “When we log into our account, we get a message that your account has been suspended and then link it to a page with all the community rules.” He added that while the page listed all the community rules, it did not clarify what rules did their twitter accounts violate.

Speculating on the possible reasons for the suspension, Mr. Ahmed noted that there was a possibility that the accounts could have been suspended on the complaints of some users from India. He shared that lately, the Daily Pakistan’s English website was involved in “debunking fake news” circulating in the Indian media and that this could be one of the reasons why their account was flagged. However, he added that it was unfathomable to see both accounts linked to Urdu and English service getting suspended as the content on both these services was entirely different.

 

 

 

Written by

Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.

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