‘Disrespect to region’: Twitter ‘relocates’ users in Gilgit-Baltistan to JK

A panoramic view of Gilgit city from serena gilgit hotel. [Photo: Wikimedia]

Twitter reportedly blocked Pakistan’s official Twitter account in Gilgit Baltistan and is showing the location of the region in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Dawn reported.

As per the Pakistani English-language newspaper, even after the users turn the location feature on the app, tweets sent from the region are marked as originating from JK.

The locals explicitly showed changes in Twitter location and blocked access to Pakistan Government’s official account.

The issue came to light when several Twitter users in Gilgit-Baltistan complained that they were unable to access the government’s official account from the region.

When users tried to access the account, a message was displayed stating the “account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand”.

The newspaper reported that Pakistani officials denied any such changes and termed the claim ‘baseless’. “There are no restrictions on the freedom of the internet, media and expression in the entire Gilgit Baltistan,” officials said.

The government’s official account has been banned in India since March 2023. In 2022, the account was withheld twice over “legal complaints”.

“I am in #GilgitBaltistan & @Twitter can’t show tweets from @GovtofPakistan, saying that account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand! Hello @TwitterSupport, I’m in Pakistan why can’t I see tweets from various accounts I follow including the one mentioned?,” tweeted Yasir Hussain, a resident of the Rahimabad area of Gilgit, according to Dawn.

While talking with Dawn, Hussain said that when he tried to add the location to his tweets, he found that the app located him in the Union Territory of JK, rather than Gilgit Baltistan.

He further stated that the officials in Pakistan should take “serious cognisance” of this matter as India “might have influenced Twitter to change GB’s geotagging”.

Another Twitter user, Karim Shah Nizari also reported that he can’t add Pakistan’s location to his tweets. “The only option we are getting is Jammu and Kashmir.”

Mr Nizari told Dawn that he was based in the Yasin Valley of Ghizer district, but the Twitter algorithm was showing him tweets from India on his feed.

The GB government said those making such claims on social media should stop spreading fake news.

Users in GB said the social media platform has “disrespected the status of Gilgit-Baltistan” and called it an attack on the region’s identity, Dawn reported.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said in a statement said that the matter had been “thoroughly investigated”.

It stated that “no such problem” regarding Twitter blocking access to Pakistan’s official account in GB and changing the region’s location to parts of India was found.

“After detailed on-ground testing, it appears that any sporadic issues encountered are limited to very few iOS devices, affecting a small number of users,” the PTA said, adding that such incidents were not significant and did not reflect a widespread problem.

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