The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) said that 19,727 social media accounts inciting hatred and promoting terrorism have been taken down in Pakistan. Google, Facebook and Twitter were responsible for removing the accounts.
9,633 pages were inciting religious hatred and 10,094 social media accounts were promoting terrorism. They were blocked on the request of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the counter-terrorism agency said.
NACTA said that five websites that were spreading content related to terrorism were also blocked, adding that a total of 24,038 social media-related complaints were filed in 2020.
The announcement comes after Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Telegram were blocked for four hours in Pakistan on April 16 from 11 am to 3 pm due to the protests led by Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP).
Mobile data services were also temporarily restricted in some areas. A hashtag promoting fake news also began trending on Twitter in the wake of the TLP protests, claiming that there was a civil war occurring in the country. 61% of the tweets using #CivilWarinPakistan came from India, while 24% came from Pakistan.
Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said he regretted the temporary blockage of social media sites. “I regret the three-hour suspension of social media and seek an apology over it,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“Every effort will be made to prevent a shutdown of social media in the future,” he added.