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Twitter introduces ‘Freedom of Expression’ search prompt in SEA

Twitter today is expanding the #ThereIsHelp notification service and Freedom of Expression Search Prompt in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. 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 (Ideals Inc., Commission on Human Rights, and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers).

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.

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“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, Southeast Asia at Twitter. “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,”

At-risk groups

Twitter has become 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.

“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 Atty. Ansheline Bacudio, program manager for Human Rights, 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 provide victims of censorship and repression access to important resources through the #ThereIsHelp search prompt,” said Atty. Edre Olalia, President, NUPL.

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