Twitter has unblocked dozens of accounts that it restricted in Pakistan, one month after it agreed to government requests on the grounds that the content was “blasphemous”. The company bore much criticism for the move last month, which was the first time it had restricted content in Pakistan. Many claimed the government requests were politically motivated — the EFF went so far as to suggest that, by agreeing to them, Twitter showed it is no longer “the free speech wing of the free speech party” that it claims to be. For its part, Twitter appeared to make the decision to avoid more serious government action, its service was blocked entirely in Pakistan in 2012 for failing to remove similar content. The company said in a statement that it “reexamined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted.”
It’s been one month since Twitter decided to comply with Pakistani government wishes and block dozens of user accounts in the country. Now, backpedaling, the social network has reinstated access to these accounts. Working with Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, an organization devoted to protecting legal online activity, Twitter announced on Tuesday that it restored access to the blocked accounts after reexamining the content and determining it didn’t warrant a ban. “We have reexamined the requests and, in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities, have determined that restoration of the previously withheld content is warranted,” Twitter said in a statement. “The content is now available again in Pakistan.” The commotion began after Pakistani authorities deemed dozens of tweets and accounts”blasphemous” or “unethical.” Several of the accounts appeared to be anti-Islamic showing tweets and images mocking the Prophet Muhammad, photos of burning Qurans, and messages from anti-Islam bloggers. Twitter received five requests from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to take down the accounts in the beginning of May. And, on May 18, it complied.