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Twitter informs journalist his tweet on Dawar, Abidi murders may be in 'violation of Pakistani law'

Updated January 03, 2019

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Twitter sends prominent journalist Mubashir Zaidi a notice. — Twitter/Mubashir Zaidi
Twitter sends prominent journalist Mubashir Zaidi a notice. — Twitter/Mubashir Zaidi

Twitter on Thursday sent a notice to senior journalist Mubashir Zaidi, informing him that it has received a complaint through 'official correspondence' that one of his tweets regarding the murders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa SP Tahir Dawar and MQM leader Ali Raza Abidi was "in violation of Pakistani law".

Former MNA Abidi was gunned down outside his residence in Karachi's DHA on December 25. SP Dawar, who was chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in the G-10/4 area of Islamabad on October 26 and his tortured body was found in a remote area of the Afghan province of Nangarhar the following month.

On December 26, hours after Abidi's killing, Zaidi had questioned the status of the investigations into the two murder cases.

"What happened to the inquiry of Tahir Dawar?" he had tweeted. "The cold blooded murder of #AliRazaAbidi will also remain unresolved like many before him."

The micro-blogging site today informed Zaidi that the content of his tweet "has been mentioned in a complaint" it has received — however, it did not mention who specifically the complainant was or which law was allegedly being violated.

The site's legal team, however, clarified that the "notice is not legal advice" and that Zaidi can "consult legal counsel" or approach Twitter if he believes "we have contacted you in error".

Zaidi, who is a co-host of DawnNewsTV show Zara Hut Kay, said that he was "appalled because they [Twitter] are saying that they have received official correspondence from Pakistan".

"How does my tweet violate Pakistani law?" he asked.

Twitter serving notices to its users informing them that their tweets could be in violation of Pakistani law is a growing trend; other social media users local and international have also shared receiving correspondence from Twitter's legal team over 'complaints'.

Last month, a spokesperson for Twitter told AFP: "In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a valid requests from an authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time."

The spokesperson added: "We notify users so that they have the opportunity to review the legal request, and the option to take measures to protect their interests."

In August last year — during the caretaker government set-up — it had emerged that the micro-blogging website was in danger of being banned because of the government’s inability to force the tech giant to bend to its notions of what is suitable for public consumption or falls within the constitutional realm of legitimate free speech.

At the time, the then PTI information secretary Fawad Chaudhry had said that his party was against any kind of censorship on free media.

“Those who do not wish to see objectionable and offensive content should not search for such content. Social media is not just for recreation and entertainment. There are jobs and households associated with the business. Blocking social media websites will have both social and economic impacts,” said Chaudhry.