Porn star Belle Knox challenges Pakistan censors after Twitter account is blocked
Knox has responded angrily after the 'media' portion of her account was blocked in the country
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Thursday 29 May 2014
American porn star Belle Knox is challenging censors in Pakistan after content from her Twitter account was blocked in the country for containing "unethical content".
Knox was one of several Twitter users who found their accounts banned in the country.
According to the online watchdog Chilling Effects, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority submitted at least five requests between 5 May and 14 asking Twitter to block a series of tweets and accounts for users in Pakistan.
All of those requests were honoured by Twitter, which included crude drawings of the Prophet Mohamed, messages from anti-Islam bloggers and media on the Twitter account belonging to Ms Knox.
Users in Pakistan who do try to access the material are met with the message: “This account has been withheld in Pakistan.”
Ms Knox has since complained about the PTA, who reportedly requested the media portion of Ms Knox's account and the account of two other adult stars be blocked.
“I believe [they] have a problem with me because for whatever reason, I am a poster child: a woman with her own agency and free expression, some icon of perceived cultural degeneration that [they] feel [they] can censor me,” Ms Knox told Forbes.com.
"I stand up for sex workers, and will continue to do so because I feel that often, we’re disregarded as casualties.”
Pakistan has previously blocked Twitter and Facebook for content it claims is blasphemous. YouTube has been banned in the country for the past 18 months.
On its website, Twitter explains its policy on country withheld content: "Many countries, including the United States, have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content.
"If we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.
"With hundreds of millions of Tweets posted every day around the world, our goal is to respect our users’ expression, while also taking into consideration applicable local laws."
Ms Knox, a student at Duke University Law school, was 'outed' by a male student at her campus, leading her to reveal her true identity in a column for XOJane.
The revelation led to her briefly becoming one of the biggest names on the internet after explaining her decision to become a porn star was spurred by her difficulty to pay her college fees.
"I couldn't afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I absolutely love," she wrote.
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