Sunday, May 26, 2024

Twitter partners with PH civic groups to expand ‘Freedom of Expression’ search prompt in SE Asia

Twitter has announced the expansion of its #ThereIsHelp notification service and Freedom of Expression Search Prompt in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines as part of its efforts to promote the #OpenInternet globally.

The search prompt is a first for these countries, and marks the anniversary of the launch in Thailand last year.

As part of this initiative, Twitter is partnering with local civic and government organizations (@idealsorgph, @chrgovph and @nuplphilippines), and the notification service will appear whenever people search keywords associated with freedom of expression on Twitter.

The prompt will make available hotline numbers of these organizations and links to local partners to those in need of advice or access to resources related to freedom of expression and digital rights.

“At Twitter, our mission is to serve the public conversation. We believe that freedom of expression along with access to a free and #OpenInternet is a fundamental human right,” said Monrawee Ampolpittayanant, head of public policy and philanthropy for Southeast Asia at Twitter.

“The pressures driving Internet regulation in Southeast Asia highlight diverse challenges and implications, this is especially so for vulnerable groups. Expanding the #ThereIsHelp search prompt is part of our continued commitment to helping at-risk voices in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Our collaboration with local partners will ensure timely and easy access to important information and essential resources for those who need it most.”

Twitter said with the platform becoming part of the daily life of millions of people, particularly for at-risk groups such as journalists and activists, and as the digital economy in Southeast Asian countries continues to grow, there is an increasing demand for access to free, high quality information via the internet and the right of people to safely express themselves.

“The future of the Internet in Southeast Asia is at a crossroads with increasingly stringent regulatory frameworks potentially restricting freedom of expression and it has never been more important for people — especially activists and journalists — to know their rights and that support is available,” it said.

“When the law is weaponized to silence those who speak truth to power, it is important that safeguards are put in place to defend them,” said Ansheline Bacudio, program manager for human rights at the Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS).

“Through Tisya Hustisya, our online legal platform, we have assisted over 25,000 Filipinos, including those who have experienced threats, harassment, and red-tagging simply for expressing their opinions. We welcome our collaboration with Twitter as we intensify our fight for freedom of expression and empower more people to fight for and claim their rights.”

“The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) stands with the people in defending and promoting freedom of expression and the press. These are significant rights that are increasingly compromised in the Philippines, especially with the rise of censorship and the weaponization of penal laws for issues such as cyber libel, disinformation on social networks and cyberattacks on media websites. In this partnership with Twitter, NUPL seeks to provide a safe space for at-risk voices and providing victims of censorship and repression access to important resources through the #ThereIsHelp search prompt,” said Edre Olalia, president of NUPL.

“The stories that we share and consume help shape our fundamental freedoms and democracy. This is why the Commission on Human Rights is committed to upholding press freedom and fighting disinformation in the Philippines. These issues are amplified online, so we are excited to be collaborating with Twitter to address them and equip Filipinos with the knowledge on their basic human rights and access to resources that seek to protect them,” said Jacqueline Ann de Guia, executive director at Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

In partnership with reputable local organizations, the search prompt helps to surface authoritative information and provides direct contact information to credible sources of help, enabling people timely access to the information they need.

To date, Twitter has launched over 300 #ThereIsHelp prompts with 41 languages available in 106 markets around the world on a wide range of issues; including mental health and suicide prevention, vaccination, child sexual exploitation, Covid-19, gender-based violence, HIV and disaster response.

In Southeast Asia, the Freedom of Expression search prompt was first launched in Thailand last year as part of Twitter’s global effort to help connect people in need of legal support when exercising the right to freedom of expression. The launch in Thailand marked an important milestone for Twitter globally as it was the first search prompt developed for human rights defenders.


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