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Saturday July 13, 2024

X shutdown enters 7th day in Pakistan

Sindh High Court Thursday ordered the PTA to fully restore the services of social media platform X across the country

By Our Correspondent
February 25, 2024
X logo displayed on a laptop screen and X logo displayed on a phone screen. — AFP/File
X logo displayed on a laptop screen and X logo displayed on a phone screen. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Even after seven days, the services of social media giant X, formerly Twitter, remain suspended across Pakistan while the authorities have not offered any explanation for the outage.

The disruption began on Saturday last week. Thousands of Pakistanis turn towards the Elon Musk-owned platform for quick dissemination of information, but they are unable to access it.

Despite Geo.tv’s attempts to reach out to relevant authorities — including the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and ministers — no one has commented on the outage.

Global internet monitor, NetBlocks, said VPN services have also been restricted in the country, causing difficulty for users in accessing the micro-blogging site.

“User reports indicate possible problems at X (Twitter),” said website tracker Downdetector.com.

Nighat Dad, the executive director of Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), told Geo.tv that the X outage is damaging the image of the country. She added the PTA is not being transparent about these outages and disruptions.

The rights activist noted that there is a likelihood of “consuming disinformation by users on platforms like X where people have a space to exercise their fundamental rights of freedom of speech and access to information specifically during times of elections or conflict”. “That’s where we need these platforms where people have more and more speech and the other people can counter this information as well and, specifically, around elections,” she added.

The X outage, she said, is not sending a good message to investors or international organisations who can see Pakistan as a potential avenue for investment in the IT sector.

“I don’t think it’s a good beginning for this newly formed government or any party that is forming a government in Pakistan.”

Ahead of the February 8 general elections, users were unable to access several social media sites, for which authorities concerned blamed a “technical error”.

However, on the polling day, the internet was shut down to avoid terrorism, according to the caretaker government. Following the sought-after polls, there were repeated disruptions in accessing X.

The Sindh High Court Thursday ordered the PTA to fully restore the services of social media platform X across the country and sought a detailed response from the authority and other parties at a later hearing.