- You can now perform Marvel plays with your school theater group 5 Years Ago
- Trans/Sex: Strap-ons for trans women, inclusive porn games, and online dating 5 Years Ago
- Why UFC 239 may be the PPV event of the year Today 6:00 AM
- Twitter lifts ‘permanent’ suspension of activist Barrett Brown Monday 5:52 PM
- Billie Eilish fans fend off objectifying comments on tank top photo Monday 5:32 PM
- Groom’s mother sabotages wedding by tricking guests into wearing jorts and hoodies Monday 4:39 PM
- No one believes Bill de Blasio’s son sent him these debate prep texts Monday 3:26 PM
- Meek Mill, Jay-Z to release ‘Free Meek’ documentary on Amazon Prime Monday 3:20 PM
- 3 ways to secure your Nest cameras Monday 3:15 PM
- This Pokémon generator site is creating hilarious monsters Monday 2:48 PM
- MrBeast impersonator tricks kid into destroying his XBox Monday 12:50 PM
- This mom has the perfect nickname for her nonbinary kid Monday 12:25 PM
- Netflix tests pop-out player that will allow viewers to multitask Monday 11:44 AM
- Man allowed to sue media publishers over readers’ Facebook comments Monday 11:42 AM
- Republicans slammed for joke about ‘heavily armed militia’ at Oregon statehouse Monday 11:30 AM
Duke porn star Belle Knox blasts Twitter for censoring her tweets in Pakistan
“If he thinks I am a soft target, he’s going to be surprised.”
Earlier this month, Pakistani bureaucrat Abdul Batin of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) successfully convinced Twitter to remove “blasphemous” and “unethical” content from the site in Pakistan, including images of the Prophet Muhammed, political speech, and the NSFW photos on three adult performers’ accounts.
The removal of the “blasphemous” content in Pakistan prompted outrage among Internet freedom activists, with Electronic Frontiers Foundation global policy analyst Eva Galperin writing that Twitter was betraying “its own fundamental values” by failing to uphold its commitment to free speech. Now, so-called Duke porn star Belle Knox, whose account was one of those censored in Pakistan, is joining the fray in condemning the PTA and Twitter for suppressing digital freedom of expression.
“I believe Mr. Batin has a problem with me because for whatever reason, I am his poster child: a woman with her own agency and free expression, some icon of perceived cultural degeneration that he feels he can censor to feel better about himself,” Knox recently wrote in an email to Forbes. “If he thinks I am a soft target, he’s going to be surprised.”
It’s unclear why Batin targeted Knox’s account specifically; after all, it’s doubtful that Knox, who made headlines earlier this year for a series of xoJane essays she wrote about her experience being slut-shamed and harassed on campus, has much of a following in the predominantly Muslim country, which has made a series of concerted efforts to block access to online porn. But then again:
Shout out to all my fans in Pakistan : the PTA might not like me, but I like you! <3
— Belle Knox (@belle_knox) May 28, 2014
Knox herself acknowledges that the removal of the photos on her account pales in comparison to the widespread censorship of political thought and speech throughout the country: “My own curtailment of free expression in Pakistan seems very small on the greater world stage, where political groups based in sovereign countries are being silenced,” she writes.
But like many of the free speech activists who spoke out against Twitter ceding to the PTA’s demands to restrict content on the Internet, Knox believes that the censorship of her account sets a dangerous precedent, possibly curtailing the growth of future social media activism on the platform.
“Twitter likes to state that it is an instrument for positive social change but whenever it serves to enable oppression any good it does is erased a thousand fold,” she writes. “The precedent that this action sets is troubling: If Pakistan can censor people on Twitter for offensive content, presumably it could do so for revolutionary content among the people of Pakistan as a method of social control.”
EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.