With increased censorship, marginalized groups fear finding safe spaces online.
When tech professional and gender justice advocate Faiza Yousuf heard about the latest social media rules passed in Pakistan, she was more than disappointed. Yousuf is the founder of Facebook community called Women in Tech PK and built up the group to its now 9,000 members. She created it as a way of helping women find opportunities in the technology sector without having to deal with the harassment and discrimination that comes with being a woman in tech.
But Pakistan has an unstable relationship with social media and digital freedoms, as its policies and boundaries constantly shift. And that tenuous position poses a risk to Yousuf and others like her who rely on social media platforms, the same way billions around the world do. In Pakistan, vulnerable communities are targets, control of platforms is weaponized, and the digital realm becomes much more dangerous.
On Oct. 13, the “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules 2021” were published, providing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority with relatively unchecked powers to remove or block any content that goes against “the glory of Islam,” “Pakistan’s security,” “public order,” or “decency or morality,”
With increased censorship, which is being policed by these vague terms, marginalized groups fear finding safe spaces online. Worse so, these rules threaten the continued presence of social...
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