Perhaps you have heard by now that Twitter has a new policy (or not so new) of blanket censoring Tweets by country of origin and topic-
Twitter Allows for Censorship of Tweets in Individual Countries
By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake
Friday January 27, 2012 10:15 am
I think we should definitely be concerned that Twitter is bowing to pressure and allowing for the censorship of tweets in individual foreign countries.
I guess they’re selling this as an advance. But really it’s a way for countries to censor content inside their borders, without the messiness of having to kill the entire Internet, like they did in Egypt briefly during the uprising.
Twitter does plan to share the content censored at Chilling Effects. And the fact that the rest of the world can see the tweets means that someone can bear witness. But this unquestionably makes censorship easier in individual countries. I don’t know how you could say otherwise.
Twitter faces censorship backlash
Charles Arthur, The Guardian
Friday 27 January 2012 07.19 EST
The company has insisted that it will not use the gagging system in a blanket fashion, but would apply it on a case-by-case basis, as already happens when governments or organisations complain about individual tweets.
The new system, which can filter tweets on a country-by-country basis and has already been incorporated into the site’s output, will not change Twitter’s approach to freedom of expression, sources there indicated.
Twitter insists that the system will only formalise a system it already uses, where tweets are blocked or deleted following full judicial process. Being able to limit tweets to particular countries, rather than blocking them altogether, expands its ability to “let tweets flow”.
Terence Eden, a London-based mobile developer, complained on Twitter: “I don’t want to develop on an API which contains a ‘withheld_in_countries’ field. What’s next, a ‘for_your_own_good’ field?” He added: “I helped develop a Twitter client that Chinese pro-democracy activists used. Guess that’s dead now. Thanks, Twitter.”
Eden, who describes the move as censorship, said it would be difficult to work around because Twitter will identify which country a user is in by their internet address. “You can spot the censorship, but it’s hard to route around it,” he said.
This Action Item Breaking-
Twitter users threaten boycott over censorship accusation
Julian Borger and Charles Arthur, The Guardian
Friday 27 January 2012 15.55 EST
“The Tweets must flow”, Twitter declared a year ago, and quickly became an instrument of fast-moving revolution across the Arab world, coordinating mass protests in Egypt and sidestepping the state censorship in Syria. But, the microblogging site conceded that the tweets would not flow evenly in every country.
The company was accused of censorship by many users and threatened with a one-day boycott on Saturday after announcing that it could remove tweets in certain countries which have “different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression”.
Jeff Jarvis, the media commentator, said the move set the microblogging site onto the “slippery slope of censorship”. “I understand why Twitter is doing this – they want to be able to enter more countries and deal with the local laws,” he said. “But, as Google learned in China, when you become the agent of the censor, there are problems there.”
Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and dissident, put it more simply, posting: “If Twitter starts censoring, I’ll stop tweeting”.
The US civil liberties website, Demand Progress, opened a petition declaring: “Twitter’s importance as an open platform has been demonstrated time and again this year. We need you to keep fighting for and enabling freedom of expression – not rationalize away totalitarianism as a legitimate ‘different idea’.”