Mike Isaac

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Major Pakistan Cellular Company Lets Users Tweet for Free

hashtag_twitterTweet freely, Pakistani people.

Mobilink, the largest provider of cellular services inside of Pakistan, announced on Tuesday that its prepaid cellular customers won’t be charged for data access for any tweets sent using Twitter’s mobile website.

“Subscribers can do all activities within Twitter like tweet & retweet,” the company said, noting that users should access the site via their devices’ mobile browsers or Opera Mini browser. And naturally, Mobilink notified many of its users via a tweet sent out on Tuesday.

This is obviously significant, in that many of the Pakistani people are able to more easily access Twitter, a tool often used for speaking out against injustice. Especially so in Pakistan, whose government has a history of cutting off Twitter access to its constituents when material it deems inappropriate happens to circulate on the service. And “free” is an exceptional deal in countries outside of the U.S., where mobile data access plans come at a much higher premium than in North America.

There are caveats. Users have to go through Twitter’s mobile website instead of the native iOS and Android clients to get their free tweets. And if you click on links from within tweets, users will be charged for data access for visiting sites outside of Twitter.

Still, much of Twitter’s use in the past has been both via direct messaging in private for organizational purposes, as well as for spreading public messages of dissent, without always necessitating external links to other sites.

Tweet on, people of Pakistan.

(Hat tip to Michael Ducker, who retweeted Mobilink’s announcement. Thanks, Mike.)

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik