Twitter agrees to block "blasphemous" tweets in Pakistan

Twitter, which has trumpeted its commitment to free speech, argues that it is a lesser evil to block specific tweets that might violate local laws than to have the entire site blocked in certain countries. Twitter posts a record of every request it agrees to in the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a database maintained by eight American law schools and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In previous cases, Twitter has agreed to withhold the tweets of an outlawed neo-Nazi group from users in Germany, and this week it blocked the account of an ultranationalist Ukrainian group from users in Russia.

Eva Galperin, a global policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote on Thursday that Twitter’s decision to block the Ukrainian group Pravy Sektor’s tweets from Russians was “disappointing” for two reasons.

“First, Twitter has no employees or assets in Russia, so it should not have to comply with a Russian court order at all,” Ms. Galperin argued. “And the order isn’t even about a Russian account — it’s a Ukrainian one. Worse yet, Pravy Sektor’s account is plainly political. If Twitter won’t stand up for political speech in a country where independent media is increasingly under attack, what will it stand for?”