Islamabad: Micro-blogging site Twitter has agreed to alert the Pakistan government before it suspends official accounts, a Minister announced. “After two months effort, Twitter agrees on a new cadence. They will not suspend govt verified accounts without prior intimation and consultation with PK government,” National IT Board Chairman Shabahat Ali Shah tweeted on Wednesday.
Following his announcement, several media outlets reported that the platform had agreed it would not suspend Pakistani accounts at all or without involving the government. Speaking to Dawn news, the NITB Chairman clarified his statement: “They have only (unofficially) agreed to alert us (government) on complaints received against official accounts or those specified by Pakistan authorities. Whether they suspend/withhold content is still their decision.”
The development comes two months after the Pakistan government in August specified about 200 accounts that were suspended by Twitter for posting content about Kashmir. The list of accounts suspended, included Twitter handles run by some government officials. In an August 19 letter written to the Twitter Vice President, Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, Shah said that users from Pakistan were shut down without warning or prior notice.
He requested them to bring any “belligerent content” to the government’s notice before suspending the account it was posted from. He also requested Twitter to verify government officials’ accounts. “At least government accounts should not be suspended without prior notice to the authorities. The government, too, will document content posted through official channels and review complaints lodged against them,” Shah had said in his letter.
While speaking to Dawn news on Wednesday, the NITB Chairman said that he would make a list of official government handles, including of spokesmen for Ministers and other representatives, as well as some non-government accounts such as NGOs that the authorities claim responsibility for.
“Once the list is submitted to Twitter, they will notify us in future, when and if, one of those accounts have violated Twitter’s rules and policies. We are yet to see what we can do once a warning is received from Twitter,” he added.