Twitter has started to warn citizens of non-UK countries that their tweets may be in violation of UK law. Many Twitter users have previously reported receiving notices about their tweets violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws but this is one of the first instances of Twitter issuing similar notices about tweets breaking UK laws.
The Canadian human rights activist Yasmine Mohammed received one of these notices yesterday. She says that she asked Twitter to clarify which UK law had been violated but hasn’t yet heard back. Mohammed also pointed out that as a Canadian citizen, UK law doesn’t apply to her.
I got an email from Twitter telling me this tweet is in violation of UK law…not Pakistani this time, UK
I asked for clarification as to which law prohibits ppl from stating historical fact. I havent heard back yet
PS: Im Canadian-your thought policing doesn’t apply to me 🇨🇦✌️ pic.twitter.com/JYHne9bpZR
— Yasmine Mohammed ياسمين محمد 🦋 (@YasMohammedxx) July 24, 2019
It’s not clear why Twitter has started to send out these notices or why it sends notices like these to people who aren’t governed by the country’s national law. Twitter did update its rules on what it deems to be “hateful conduct” earlier this month but that shouldn’t have any effect on notices like these.
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These UK law violation notices are similar to the Pakistan blasphemy law notices that have been sent to many Twitter users previously including the comedian Steven Crowder and the conservative writer Michelle Malkin.
They also follow a pattern of UK police and courts increasingly taking action against people for posts and statements that they make online. In May, the political commentator Carl Benjamin was investigated by UK police over an online joke he made three years ago. In April, a UK court ruled that the online forum Mumsnet had to give up the identity of one of its users for “misgendering.” And in March, UK police visited a man’s home to tell him to be “mindful” of what he posts online, even though he was told that he hadn’t violated any UK law.
People have responded by expressing their concerns about the UK government trying to impose blasphemy laws on Twitter and using these laws against non-UK citizens.
Who would've thought the next country after Pakistan to enforce blasphemy laws on Twitter would be the UK!@10DowningStreet Hopefully the new PM can ensure public debate doesn't become a crime. https://t.co/AxWJ10wnhA
— The Masked Arab (@TheMaskedArab) July 25, 2019
The UK trying to impose blasphemy laws on Canadians…in Canada. https://t.co/H73zVeahmK
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) July 25, 2019