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23 Jul 2021

Waleed Tariq, The Diplomat

Pakistan: Authorities increase pressure on social media platforms & journalists to remove content, creating “collateral censorship”

“Pakistan Sees Surge in Silencing of Mainstream and Social Media”, 23 July 2021.

...Twitter said legal demands made by the Pakistani government to remove or withhold content shot up..


Legal demands include a combination of court orders and other formal demands to remove content, from both governmental entities and lawyers representing individuals...


Worldwide, 199 verified journalists and news outlets were subjected to 361 legal demands to remove content. Twitter said that 52 of those requests came from Pakistan alone.

Usama Khilji, a director at Bolo Bhi, a digital rights advocacy group in Pakistan, said the surge in content removal requests signifies increased government scrutiny of online speech, and shows a disturbing trend.

The government’s reporting of tweets by journalists and news organizations to Twitter “undermines press freedom and freedom of speech as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Pakistani Constitution, and the right to information guaranteed by Article 19-A of the Constitution,” Khilji told The Diplomat...


[T]he Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked access to Chinese video-sharing app TikTok..

..The app..says it continues to work with regulators to serve its millions of users and creators in Pakistan. It removed 61.95 million videos globally for violating its terms, including nearly 6.5 million from Pakistan...

Last September, the PTA blocked access to five dating and live streaming applications — Tinder, Tagged, Skout, Grindr, and SayHi — for not removing dating services and moderating live streaming content in accordance with local laws of Pakistan.


In the annual World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders (RSF), Pakistan’s ranking has dropped from 139th in 2018 when Prime Minister Imran Khan took office to 145th in 2021.