The Pakistani government has restored access to YouTube after the website removed content the authorities deemed “blasphemous,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Facebook remains blocked in Pakistani, but company officials told PC World in a statement that they were considering making content deemed offensive by Pakistani officials inaccessible to users in that country:
“We are analyzing the situation and the legal considerations, and will take appropriate action, which may include making this content inaccessible to users in Pakistan,” Facebook said in an e-mailed statement.
Pakistani officials announced that they were blocking access to the social networking site because of an online competition urging users to draw the Prophet Mohammed. Pakistan’s main telecom regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, had originally ordered internet service providers to cut off access to Facebook and, later, YouTube until May 31, according to Reuters.
The competition, which has drawn tens of thousands of Facebook users, prompted protests by students in the Pakistani city of Lahore, who demanded that the government take action, according to The Daily Times:
Participants of the Al-Muhammadia Students Pakistan also held a massive protest outside the Lahore Press Club and walked towards the Assembly Hall. They chanted slogans against America, Sweden, Norway, Israel and Denmark for publishing the blasphemous caricatures.
“First they published the caricatures and now they are spreading them on a popular medium like Facebook. They want to change the mindset of the upcoming generation. The Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool has also scheduled a protest at the Masjid-e-Shuhuda today (Thursday),” one of the protesters said.
There were also rumors that more sites would be shut down by the Pakistani government. On Thursday, a blogger for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn wrote:
As I write this, news is coming in that Blackberry services have been suspended across the country by the PTA in an extension of the LHC order to block Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, and YouTube. Rumour has it that Gmail will also be shut down. What’s next? Are we moving towards implementing a ban on the internet too?
The result of this banning spree is that the last thing most Pakistanis care about now is the issue of inciting hatred, and crafting an effective response to hate speech. Instead, we are now concerned about censorship, authoritarian tendencies in our government, and our own freedom of expression.
The one social media service that remains untouched is Twitter, and many Pakistanis have taken to the site to protest the government’s tactics. The blogger for Dawn wrote, “the way to challenge the campaign was to protest it not to blank it!” Another Pakistani Twitter user said simply: “So much for ‘democracy’ in Pakistan.”