Math nerds, heads up. Google has just added a full featured scientific calculator to Google search, thereby allowing you to perform complex scientific and trigonometrical calculations using only your mouse. Head over to Google.com, type in a simple calculation and you should see the 34 button calculator popping in, an example is shown below:

This is so very cool, far better than how Google used to show mathematical results previously. Moreover, you don’t have to type the exact expression in the search box over and over again. Once the scientific calculator shows up, you can just key in numbers directly in the calculator and perform mathematical calculations on the fly. Now that this has happened, I won’t mind unpinning Windows calculator from the taskbar. (related: use Google Chrome as a calculator)

Google’s advanced calculator supports trigonometrical, logarithmic, factorial and basic arithmetic functions e.g Pi(π) and factorial of a number (!). Classical Google specific calculation techniques have gone nowhere, Google has only aggrandized the functionality by amalgamating all the core methods into a newer calculator UI that just works.

For example, you can type “square root of [number]” (without quotes) to find the square root of any real number through Google search. That still works, only difference is that now you get the result displayed in the calculator itself.

However, here is a little catch.

The new calculator does not support square root of negative integers. At least, not yet. Try finding the square root of -1 or any other negative integer in the new scientific calculator of Google and you’ll get an error. (high school tip: square root of a negative number is the same as square root of a positive number, just add the imaginary “i” to it.)

But wait, you can still apply the old technique to get  the square root of a negative number from Google search. Here is how:

The best part : Google’s improved calculator supports voice commands, so you can use your microphone to type in numbers and the calculator will “listen”. It might take you some time to get accustomed to but once you master the operation, you will love it even more.

The new scientific calculator is by no means limited to PC’s or desktop computers; it works across all mobile devices e.g iOS, Android and so forth. Here is how the calculator looks when viewed from Android (just rotate your phone to get the full view)

Although separate from the new calculator UI, I am more excited about how Google has revamped the display of unit conversions. Previously, Google used to display the result of a conversion in the search result page, which has now been organized under a neat tabular format.

So when I am scratching my head over a math problem inundated with half a dozen different units, I can use the dropdown menu on the unit conversion page and convert the values in real time. Speed, mass, length, volume, area. temperature, time – Google has got you covered.

Few months back, Google introduced a chrome extension which allows Adsense publishers to monitor their Google Adsense earnings directly from Google Chrome, without having to login to their account every now and then. The extension makes it very easy to quickly monitor the following:

• Channel reports.
• Top URL channels.
• Earnings from specific channels.
• Total earnings from last month, last week and yesterday.

The biggest advantage of using the Adsense publisher toolbar is real time monitoring of ad units. You can precisely monitor the performance of an individual ad unit and wont have to find that specific channel assigned to it on your Google Adsense account. Publishers who have multiple sites and have set up a large number of channels for tracking ad performance, should find this feature saving them hours.

1. Once you have installed the Chrome extension, navigate to your site and you should see Ad overlays, an example is shown below:

2. Please note that these Ad overlays are clickable and won’t generate invalid clicks. To be precise, clicking the overlay of a specific ad unit will open a new browser window where you can see a detailed performance report. Following is an example:

3. Once you have opened the “Ad details” window, you can block an ad from the right bottom section of the window by choosing “Block this ad”. The changes will be reflected in your Adsense account automatically.

There are two advantage of using the publisher toolbar over manual blocking. First, you don’t have to worry about the destination and display URL of the ad. Secondly, you can quickly check the performance metrics and then arrive at a conclusion.

Broadly speaking, if you want to increase your adsense revenue, you should not use the “block” feature at all. When you block an advertisement, it reduces advertiser competition for your ad space. Lesser the number of advertisers bidding over a specific ad space, lesser will be earnings (a general principle, exceptions are possible which depends on so many other factors).

For example, if only one advertiser has placed bids for a specific ad unit on your site, do you think he would want to pay more, considering there aren’t any opponents who also want a share of that ad space?

“But I think these are low paying ads and I want to block them forever” –  Wrong!. A costly misconception.

If your website stands the test of time, competition over bidding is going to happen sooner than later. Filtering ads because you want to “grow your revenue” is a really bad idea. However, if you think a specific advertisement is annoying, obscene, causes distraction or sounds and not suitable for your audience, there is no harm in blocking it.

The Penguin update, Google’s latest algorithmic tweak takes over optimization very seriously. To be precise, Penguin has been addressed to answer the ever expanding issue of link spam; this algorithmic change lowers the ranking of sites who use unfair means to gain higher ranks in Google search results. (e.g there are sites who try to rob the so called “PageRank” through repetitive anchor texts.)

Penguin, apart from filtering over optimized sites, also scans for possible violations of Google Webmasters quality guidelines. If you have a website which has been intentionally over optimized, has a good number of paid links / reciprocal links, the chances of getting hit by a forthcoming Penguin update is very high. In fact, almost unavoidable.

Probably the worst thing regarding Penguin update is that there is no way you can prevent the upcoming massacre, as you don’t have control on who links to you. This has evoked the concept of negative SEO and many webmasters have this question – Can competitors harm my site through spam links? What is the procedure to tell Google that these links that point to my site are spam, I have not bought them and I dont want them to be associated with my site? I want to tell Google that I am not behind these links and my website should not be a victim of any algorithmic update.

Google’s classical reply is “You don’t have to worry about who links to you, we will figure it out on our own. We have our own judgement, methodologies and algorithms in place, as reliance on manual feedback from every single site owner is practically impossible. If some spam source is linking to your content and you see thousand of incoming links out of nowhere, you may want to file a spam report.”

However, Google Engineer Matt Cutts has recently said in a video that there are situations when a competitor can actually “behave like a competitor” and try to harm your site.

Matt said:

“Whenever we write an algorithm, e.g which looks at incoming links, we do think about what if a competitor tries to hurt someone else. We try to put in code to make sure that this practice is not easy to do, its not the case that someone can hurt someone else that easily. As a result, we haven’t really felt the need to add a feature in Google Webmaster tools which allows the webmaster to send us a list of links that Google should not trust or count upon. Maybe we will do it down the road but at least for the time being, we are not offering this feature.”

Bing has played white and made the first move, announcing a new feature in Bing Webmaster tools which allows webmasters to disavow links that are unnatural, spammy or completely created from “junk”.

Starting today, you can use your Bing webmaster tools account to tell Microsoft the sources who are maliciously linking to your website. There are situations when a spam site, a porn site or a low quality site rips you off and links to random pages on your site, so now you can tell Bing – “Hey, please do not count these low quality links, I don’t trust them and I have good belief they have been created by a spammer.”

An excerpt from the post:

Using the Disavow Links tool, you can easily and quickly alert Bing about links you don’t trust.  Using the drop-down, you can choose to input signals to us at the page level, a directory level or at a domain level.  We’ll note the “type” of location (page, directory or domain) and the date you told us of the action.

So if you’re paranoid about link spam and want to play it safe, you may want to send the entire list of spam sources to Bing. Please note that Bing team has clearly stated not to expect a dramatic change in search results, just because you’re using the “Disavow links” tools from Bing Webmaster tools. Your action will help Bing understand your intent and thoughts about links that are pointing towards your site, everything else will obviously be in Bing’s hand, not yours.

### Verdict: Haters Gonna Hate, Spammers Gonna Spam – Just Do Your Thing!

If you ask me, I would not worry about it at all because this is something beyond my control. A hundred spam sites is okay but in reality, the number is quite high and keeps on increasing every single day. Reporting spam is a vicious circle and a complete waste of time, if your site is a bit old and has decent traffic.

But there can be situations when you’re left with no other choice. For example, your site got hit by a Penguin refresh, you analyzed the logs and found that organic traffic from Google and Bing has tanked. You can try and see if things work out but in general, I would not worry about it that much.  It is best not to worry about something which you can’t control but to make your own thing better, provide a good user experience and polish it until the shine returns.

Setbacks are part of the business, it is just a matter of time when you will take the right steps and the results will reflect on their own, without you having to knock doors of every other search engine on earth.

You know, Karma is awesome!

## Facebook Makes It Easy To Find Nearby Facebook Users From Web And Mobile

“What’s your Facebook profile buddy? Lets add each other on Facebook and be in touch” – asked a recent acquaintance whom I have just met through a mutual friend. This is turning out to be a usual routine for online users, keeping in touch with anyone and everyone no matter how old or nascent the relationship is.

The old fashioned way is to pass on the address of your Facebook vanity URL and tell the acquaintance to send you a friend request. The new way however, is to use “Friendshake”, which lets you find Facebook users who are close to your location at this very moment.

It works like this. Login to your Facebook account and go to fb.com/ffn, you will be greeted with nearby Facebook users who are closest to your location and are also viewing the same page from their mobile or from web. If you’re lucky and have agreed to share your location with Facebook, you may find a Facebook user near you, befriend the person and let the conversation begin.

Here is how the “Find friends nearby” page of Facebook looks on mobile (image courtesy – Techcrunch):

Friendshake although available at m.facebook.com/friendshake , has also been integrated into Facebook’s iOS and Android apps as a built in feature. To find nearby Facebook users on your Android device, open up the official Facebook app, pull down the sidebar menu from left and navigate to apps > Find Friends > Other Tools > Find friends nearby.

This appears to be a friction less way to find people around you but as of now, you have to keep that page open or else nearby users won’t be able to locate you on their “Friendshake” page. Although sounds great but Friendshake can be a huge privacy risk, if not handled carefully. I have many Facebook friends who want to remain “semi -anonymous” on Facebook; they prefer not to “be found” on Facebook, other than befriending close friends and family members.

If you are like them, friendshake is not your cup of tea since the core idea of friendshake is to find strangers who are near your location and are also on Facebook. Kind of fun if you love stalking and stumbling over random people at public places, restaurants and so on. Lets not forget that one month ago, Facebook acquired location based stalking app Glancee whose mission statement was:

We wanted to make it easy to discover the hidden connections around you, and to meet interesting people. Since then Glancee has connected thousands of people, empowering serendipity and pioneering social discovery

Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson told Techcrunch:

I built Find Friends Nearby with another engineer for a hackathon project. While it was originally called ‘Friendshake’, we settled on ‘Find Friends Nearby’ for launch (the URL was a little bit of a homage to the previous iteration).

For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you’re out with a group of people whom you’ve recently met and want to stay in contact with. Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction.

Ryan says that friendshake uses geolocation to find your GPS co-ordinates when you are on your Friendshake page  and shows you Facebook profiles within a radius around your coordinates. Once you leave the page, you stop showing on others Friendshake page.

Facebook’s recent actions imply that the social site is getting ready to take Facebook to the next level. Recent acquisitions, things like “Friends who have recently logged in” kind of hints towards a real time social discovery system where finding and connecting with someone you have just met wont be too much work.

Meanwhile, RIP Friendthem.com – another social discovery engine which was trying to achieve exactly the same thing which Facebook is now doing in house.

After a certain period of time, Facebook notifications may take over your life. There are so many updates and so much of noise from groups, applications, Questions, games, events, comments, likes and other activities that often you find yourself lost in a fray of updates and only updates. If you live and breathe the internet, these notifications can be a real time killer and distract you from work. That’s certainly not cool and the purpose of social networking.

The biggest problem of real time notifications in Facebook is its oscillating nature, which sort of comes back to you even if you’re not interacting. “Mr X also commented on a post you commented” – I have forgotten the original post but Facebook notifications seem to come back whenever someone (whom I don’t even know) interacts with the same post.

Thankfully, this is going to change as users will soon be able to mute notifications directly from the Facebook notification drop down menu. Yesterday, Facebook announced on its developer blog that the social network will introduce easier notification controls for applications, groups and other sources. Now users will be able to mute or unsubscribe from a notification “type” directly from the notification drop down, an example is shown below:

Clicking the small hover on “cross” on the extreme right of a notification will pull in an option menu where you can choose to Turn off all notifications from a specific app, group, photo or choose to mute an entire activity until eternity. Additionally, you can choose to report the app as spam or undo your last action.

This is going to save a good amount of time; you can now block applications on the fly, without having to visit your notification settings page or manually block spammy apps from your Facebook news feed. This change also make it super easy to unsubscribe from comment and like notifications, without having to visit the actual post, find the tiny “unfollow” link and be done with it. I have a separate friend list for my “noisy” Facebook friends who post every half an hour so these new controls will keep the notifications bar neat and clean.

The newer controls are currently web only and not available for Facebook for mobile. Moreover, application developers will be able to track the opt-out rates for their applications from Facebook insights dashboard.

## [Editorial] Post Penguin Update, Can Competitors Harm Your Site Through Link Bombs?

On April 24th 2012, Google introduced another major update to its algorithmic filter , better known as The Penguin update. Similar to the Panda update, Penguin has produced disastrous results, literally killing the organic traffic of thousands of “over optimized” sites in one shot. Penguin was launched to address the issue of “over optimization”, filter sites who don’t adhere to Google webmaster quality guidelines and use black hat SEO techniques to manipulate rankings.

Penguin is surely more dangerous than Panda, because once you have bought 6000 links from paid directories, it is very difficult, if not impossible to undo that effect. Panda can be cured if you improve or remove low quality content from your domain but the issue of spam links is sometimes, beyond your control.

Let me get this straight. If you buy links from SEO firms or do link exchanges with random sites, stuff your pages with keywords and phrases that don’t flow or read well, there is a high chance that your site will fall in the Penguin pit. Penguin takes link spam very seriously, any manipulation and you’re in big trouble.

Moving forward from the usual talk, the big question is – can your competitors harm you through link bombs? What if one of your competitor tries to bolster you by buying paid links from thousands of sites?

According to Penguin’s principles, if your backlink portfolio looks unnatural and deceptive, the rankings of your site is going to suffer. Big time. Over optimized anchor text is another big factor; Google scans all the links pointing to your domain and if Penguin finds that the Anchor texts are very similar and have been intentionally manipulated for better rankings, the Penguin filter is thrown on your face.

Before I put up a test case, lets understand the scenario of a legit site that got hit by Penguin update. The reason why I am citing this example is that the site in question did nothing wrong, but Penguin “thought” that it was manipulating rankings through over optimized Anchor text.

### WPMU.org Got Hit By Penguin

Wpmu.org observed their organic traffic from Google taking a nose dive, as they discovered that they were hit by the introductory Penguin update on April 23rd 2012. Here is a screenshot James has shared in the Wpmu blog

Upon inspection, James and his team found that the penalty was directly linked to low quality links pointing to their domain. Where and how did these links originated in the first place? Well, you guessed it –Footer links from free WordPress Themes.

Lets hear James’s explanation on this.

1. You create and released a really great WordPress theme, for free.
2. Some spammer decides to use it on their sploggy / nasty / low quality / keyword stuffed pages.
3. You get penalized for that.

This is insanely ridiculous. I don’t care what negative SEO, Penguin or any algorithm is, I’ve done nothing wrong, built and gave away my work for free. Now this is the reward I am getting. Wow!

How am I responsible if thousands of spammers use my free WordPress theme and there is a link in the footer pointing to my domain? Isn’t it natural that I place a link in the footer to let people know that I have developed this WordPress theme? I am not manipulating PageRank and neither I am buying or trading links.

Here is an interesting comment.

Blaming Google or cursing Penguin isn’t going to help but according to Matt Cutt’s advice

If you’ve cleaned and still don’t recover, ultimately, you might need to start all over with a fresh site

What that means is I have built something for years, tons of thousands of people have used my work in their good, bad, horrible, spam sites and one day, some algorithm “thinks” that I have bought all these links and penalizes me. Now, either I have to beg to all those spammers to remove my credit links or I have to start all over again . Doesn’t make any sense, no?

### The Recovery Story Of WPMU.org

Ross Hudgens and James Farmer agreed to begin their hunt for Penguin and get WPMU.org out of the Penguin filter. They did made a lot of changes, took down massive number of incoming links from edublogs.org thereby fixing the ratio of sitewide links / anchor texts. Additionally, the team had to email bloggers to take down footer links that point to WPMU.org and since the site had hundreds of thousands of links, this was meant to be an ongoing effort.

Meanwhile, the site made a full recovery from its original hit from the Penguin update.

Now WPMU.org is a big brand and they were able to get this specific use case in front of Google and the greater SEO community that highlighted it. This might not be the case with you. It is unlikely to get the same media coverage and attention, rather claim it.

This comment from Ross put it as straight as an arrow:

It’s smart marketing, for sure. If you really deserve to be ranking, shout it out loud. Either you’re going to quickly find out why you don’t deserve to rank, or Google will realize there’s a hole there and potentially correct if a hole really does exist.

Unfortunately, the benefits of such a strategy are diminishing already – media cares less and less, especially the further away it gets from a Google update. So, James was definitely smart to get this in front of the media and capitalize on the press – but more so, he was smarter in that he had already built a business deserving to rank well on Google – turns out the rest tends to just figure itself out.

Now the bigger question is – what am I supposed to do if my competitor is engaging my site in black hat techniques? For example, earlier SEO’s were focused on buying links for their domain. Now that things have changed, what if someone pays some SEO guy to do black hat SEO for my site? This is something beyond my control and there is no way I can prevent people from distributing spam links on forums, directory sites or a link wheel.

Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

Prior to this, the same page used to read the following (highlights by me) [h/t SER]:

There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

I feel pity for those people who don’t have any clue what PageRank is, what is Google Webmaster Tools, neither have they heard about Panda or Penguin.

Nobody really knows whether it is really possible to harm a competitor through sale of spam links. If you can harm yourself through spam links, you can always use the same techniques to harm a competitor’s site as well. Who is going to determine the “intent” and “source” of the spam behavior? Link manipulation is link manipulation, regardless of whether it’s the site owner purchasing links to improve rankings, or a third party doing it to take down a competitor.

There is no rule book of spam.

Of course, negative SEO is a fairly unexplored ground but if this works (God forbids), sooner or later all those SEO’s are going to find a way around it. Previously, Google did a good job ignoring the volume and quantity of links that seemed irrelevant. The philosophy – incoming links from third party sites can either improve your ranks or have no effect whatsoever, was perfect.

Now that this negative SEO (in theory of course) is in place,  I can’t elevate my site but I can try to corrupt the reputation of my competitor. Lets just buy paid links from porn sites and spam the whole web with repetitive anchor texts, it will show an effect sooner than later.

Congratulations. Search engine optimization becomes search engine warfare.

P.S: The following video by Matt Cutts gives some hints but tells nothing about negative SEO and things a legit webmaster should do, if he finds that his competitor is trying to destroy the reputation of his site through external deceptive behaviour.

## Anonymous India Declares War On Censorship, Hacks Reliance Communication’s Network

The cat and mouse game of Internet censorship in India is getting too dangerous with each day.

A few weeks back, several Indian ISP’s censored torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and blocked the very popular video sharing site Vimeo. The list of ISP’s include  Airtel, Reliance, MTNL and Youbroadband – some very big names who have thousands of customers in India. The explanation – Reliance Entertainment has obtained John Doe court orders and ISP’s are directed to block access to torrent and video sharing sites where pirated materials are distributed. (see example)

I am not sure how I am able to surf Vimeo, ThePirateBay, Pastebin and other blocked sites through my internet connection. I use BSNL broadband and have a Tata Photon connection but both these ISP’s haven’t blocked any site because of a so called court order. How awkwardly rebellious!

But then, Newton’s third law must manifest itself.

Anonymous, the infamous hacker group decided to have a go at Indian Government and they managed to take down Indian Government websites (here is the tweet from opindia). Now they are going all guns blazing towards Reliance and they have successfully hacked into the servers of Reliance communication, a sister concern of Reliance Entertainment. This blow from Anonymous is confirmed after some users reported that they were greeted by the following message, while trying to access social sites through the Reliance communications network.

Here are a few more screenshots, courtesy Whitec0de and ZDNet:

The defaced page of Anonymous India has a pretty long “press release” which kind of announces their propaganda against the injustice caused by Indian Government and Indian ISP’s such as Reliance communications. The group has also organized a Facebook event asking users to wear masks on June 9th, 2012, in protest for internet freedom and free speech.

Offense is the best defense. Agreed.

But the way these hacks are projected to the public, the issue may turn into a ridicule – everyone fighting with the other and nobody has any clue what they are fighting for. The issue here is freedom of voice, which can not be achieved by stabbing swords in each others back. The principle is forgotten amongst silly rules, turning the situation into a bureaucratic joke.

We have seen this mob war in past, Indian hackers hacked Pakistani websites which was soon followed by a Pakistani group hacking Indian Government sites. Why did the Indian hackers hacked Pakistani Government sites in the first place? The goal was to protest against Mumbai Bomb blasts, but in practice – their movement turned into a cyber war which was cease-fired through mutual agreement.

Now that Anonymous has declared war on Indian ISP’s, this might hurt end users in the long run. The law has a very long arm, scratching an unhealed wound will only make matters worse.

P.S: There is a rumor that Indian Government may ban HTTPS and SSH. This ran shivers through my veins but I calmed down on realizing that the report is 11 years old and the proposal was never tabled.

Update: Anonymous India has released a video on YouTube urging users to join their cause on June 9th, 2012. This is getting interesting!

## Google Doodle Pays Tribute To Robert Moog Through A Hackable, Recordable Synthesizer

If you are fond of music (almost anyone on this earth is), expect to waste a couple of hours gazing the Google homepage and randomly hitting keys to create the “Moog effect”.

Google has recreated the Les paul with todays Google doodle. By featuring a full featured synthesizer (electronic keyboard or modern version of the classical piano) on its homepage, the doodle is paying tribute to Robert “Bob” Moog – the inventor of Moog synthesizer and a pioneer of electronic music in America.

When compared to Les Paul, this doodle is far more complex but if you can manage the modes well, the sound flows and feels really crispy. The doodle is by no means limited to only “playing”; you can record a song in the Moog synthesizer doodle and share the recording through a short g.co URL. Pretty neat!

### Play Twinkle Twinkle On The Moog Synthesizer Google Doodle

Remember the good old days of Kindergarten, singing baby jingles in groups? Want to play a simple tune on the Moog synthesizer Google doodle? We have got you covered!

Here is the notation and keys for Twinkle Twinkle Little star (keyed in C major):

rr ii oo I (Twinkle, twinkle, little star,)
uu yy tt r (How I wonder what you are.)
i iu uy yt  (Up above the world so high,)
i iu uy yt  (Like a diamond in the sky.)
rr ii oo I (Twinkle, twinkle, little star)
uu yy tt r (How I wonder what you are.)

Sweet? You bet.

### Play Titanic On The Moog Synthesizer Google Doodle

Another very famous song which is easy to play and touches your soul. Try hitting the following notes (keyboard pattern):

rt ty tr ti
ui io iu yt

op p[ po i
ui io iu yt

rt ty tr ti
uy tr w  q

r rr r er
r er t yt
r rr r er
r er rt q

r (hold)
t (hold)
q i uyt
y uy t er
t er rt q

### Mix Those Filters – Hack The Doodle to Create Your Own Techno Sound

If you play around with the given filters, mixer, envelopes and oscillators, you would be able to create your own techno sound in the moog Synthesizer doodle. It takes some time to master the operation of the filters but once you have got the hang of it, you just can’t stop hitting those keys. To get the best results, keep all the filters to their default state and slowly alter the value of one filter. Next, keep the earlier filter as it is and move on to the next, you will have to go through a number of trial and errors until you figure out your own “doodly sound”.

For example, it took me less than half an hour to create this techno sound – http://g.co/doodle/k5kbxb. If you are from India, you will know that this tune is a combination of two very famous ad jingles (Reliance and Airtel).

I hope Google will preserve this doodle and give this piece the honor it deserves – a permanent homepage. The other doodles who have already managed a permanent home are Pacman and Les Paul.

Update: The Twitter ban in Pakistan has now been lifted, after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mr. Gilani Ordered to lift the ban. Original story follows

Exactly after two years, Pakistan Government authorities have yet again blocked access to micro blogging site Twitter.com on the issue of “blasphemous images” of Prophet Muhammad, reports the Express tribune. This is confirmed through a video clip on Zemtv.com’s YouTube channel, a local Television reporting agency. The video has been embedded below:

Ironically, Pakistan’s interior minister Mr. Rehman malik tweeted this morning that social sites such as Twitter and Facebook will continue to operate in Pakistan and they will not be blocked. He stressed that all such reports are nothing but rumors but the fact is that hours after he posted his tweet, Twitter has become inaccessible from several parts of Pakistan.

The alleged material was promoting a competition to post “blasphemous” images of Prophet Muhammad on Facebook and Twitter. This is the second time Twitter has been blocked in Pakistan (after Facebook and YouTube) and what surprises me even more is that the issue remains all the very same – religious sentiments. This reminds me of the death warrant case against Facebook founder Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, when he was investigated for the highly controversial “Everybody Draw Muhammad” page on Facebook (now taken down).

“We have been negotiating with them until last night, but they did not agree to remove the stuff, so we had to block it.”,  said Mr Yaseen, Pakistan’s Minister of Information technology. “The ministry officials are still trying to make them (Twitter) agree, and once they remove that stuff, the site will be unblocked”, he added.

India, the neighboring country, is also prone to religious and political chaos and we have a couple of examples to consider. Quite recently, the Indian Government imposed a partial censorship on all BlogSpot blogs, after Google and other Internet companies were asked to remove objectionable content followed by a court order. I don’t think imposing bans or passing censorship laws helps in the long run. People who want to defame someone, will find alternative means, you block it and they will find another vehicle – this cycle goes on infinitely. The internet is an “open playground”; without any so called “boundaries” and everyone is just another player in this ever expanding game.