Twitter, Facebook 'cooperated' with Pakistan for 'prevention of hate speech': Chaudhry

'We desire the prevention of hate speech and not to curb free speech,' the minister said

Web Desk
Image shows Geo News anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada (above) and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry (below).—Photo: Geo News/Screenshot and REUTERS/File

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The Pakistani government desires "the prevention of hate speech and not to curb free speech", Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Friday night, adding that "social media companies have cooperated with us".

Speaking on Geo News' programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath, Chaudhry said the Pakistan Electronic Crime Act and the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) cyber wing are inactive.

However, "social media companies have cooperated with us, especially with regard to some recent developments.

"It was [the Pakistani government's] request that led Facebook to block most of the accounts," the minister said. "We desire the prevention of hate speech and not to curb free speech."

Earlier in the day, microblogging website Twitter had published a report, wherein it stated that the Pakistani officials reported more than 3,000 accounts in the first six months of 2018 for allegedly spreading hate speech and inciting violence.

According to the social media platform's report for the January-June 2018 period, Islamabad forwarded requests to block 243 accounts. Of these, Twitter found 141 to be violating its guidelines and shut them down.

The accounts reported totalled 3,004.

In the preceding period (July-December 2017), 674 accounts were reported to Twitter and requests to block 75 accounts were forwarded,

It is interesting to note that Twitter said three accounts removal requests in 2018 were sent via orders of the Pakistani court, as opposed to none in the prior year when all were sent by either the government or the law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

Khanzada, on the other hand, added that since a report for the latter half of 2018 is yet-to-be-released, the number of both accounts reported and requests to shut down accounts on Twitter could be higher.