Duke Porn Star Not Happy About Pakistan Censoring Her Twitter Photos

Jun 11, 2014
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Last week, Twitter was, well, atwitter about a post by Eva Galperin of EFF accusing the platform of “betraying its most fundamental values” by agreeing to strip content from the site in countries where the tech company doesn’t have an official business presence. Her argument was that Twitter should stand up for American values of free speech in countries where local law enforcement can’t barge into its office and take employees off in handcuffs.

“Twitter likes to state that it is an instrument for positive social change but whenever it serves to enable oppression any good it does is erased a thousand fold,” she writes. “The precedent that this action sets is troubling: If Pakistan can censor people on Twitter for offensive content, presumably it could do so for revolutionary content among the people of Pakistan as a method of social control. If Twitter was so quick to muzzle and mute journalists and citizens, would we have seen mass-movement social change like the Occupy Movement and Arab Spring in 2010? It is worth remembering that Twitter is not legally obliged to honor these requests, and that a principle undefended or asserted without support is not a principle at all… In the words of Solomon Burke: If one of us is chained, none of us are free.”

“Twitter likes to state that it is an instrument for positive social change but whenever it serves to enable oppression any good it does is erased a thousand fold,” Knox writes. “The precedent that this action sets is troubling: If Pakistan can censor people on Twitter for offensive content, presumably it could do so for revolutionary content among the people of Pakistan as a method of social control…. It is worth remembering that Twitter is not legally obliged to honor these requests, and that a principle undefended or asserted without support is not a principle at all… In the words of Solomon Burke: If one of us is chained, none of us are free.”

The post was inspired by a series of requests from a Pakistani bureaucrat earlier this month asking for the removal of tweets and Twitter content he considered “blasphemous” and “unethical.” The offensive material included political speech, images of the Prophet Mohammed, and the “media” portion of three porn stars’ Twitter accounts. Two of those pornographic accounts have since been suspended from Twitter all together but the third belongs to salacious celebrity of the moment Belle Knox a.k.a. Miriam Weeks, the Duke student outed as an XXX actress earlier this year.

Given the many porn stars on Twitter, it’s unclear why Pakistan went with Knox; perhaps the fairly widespread national dislike of Duke* is international. “Dear Twitter Team,” writes Abdul Batin of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority in his request, which was posted on Chilling Effects by Twitter. “Please block the following unethical links.” In the list that follows is the “videos and photos” portion of Knox’s account: https://twitter.com/belle_knox/media, which is thoroughly NSFW (not safe for work) as well as NSFP (not safe for Pakistan). Apparently, Batin doesn’t mind her tweets; he just doesn’t want his country to see her photos and videos. The same request asks for the removal of a url that would perform a search on Twitter for “Burn Quran” photos, calling it blasphemous.

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