Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pakistan blocks Twitter for several hours, accomplishes nothing


In a showing of ridiculous and outdated outrage, high-ranking Pakistani officials decided to ban Twitter throughout the entire country for several hours on Sunday. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Minister for Information Technology, issued the nationwide Tweeting ban after citing “blasphemous material” on the social media network.
The ban likely coincided with mention of a Prophet Mohammed-drawing contest started on Facebook, “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” which asks anyone to submit a drawing of Mohammed on May 20. Many Muslims find depictions of Mohammed to be blasphemous and offensive.
In light of pressure from Pakistani officials, Facebook agreed to cease access to the contest in Pakistan, but Twitter wouldn’t oblige. IT Minister Ashraf then instituted a complete ban of the site, but ultimately had his orders overridden by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani a mere 8 hours later. Consequently, Ashraf’s ban became nothing more than a high-ranking hissy fit.
To add insult to injury, Pakistani citizens had no trouble getting around the ban, instead tweeting from smartphones or downloading software that circumvented the restrictions.
“The fact that despite their ‘Twitter Ban,’ we are still tweeting from Pakistan, should tell them how stupid it is to censor Internet,” tweeted Pakistani user ‘@marvisirmed’.
With a move that was undoubtedly sincere to his beliefs, Ashraf and officials that agreed with him only served to shine a brighter light on their archaic foundations and offenses against personal freedom. To assume that shutting down a single website could prevent the dissenting behavior they despise so deeply is both ignorant and shockingly naive. One would hope the Minister of Information Technology would have a more thorough understanding of the technology the ministers.


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