Twitter: Killing Free Speech, 160 characters at a time… (Multi-Story Post)

Twitter faces censorship backlash

Users of the social network have shared their views on news that Twitter has implemented a system to withhold tweets on a country-by-country basis.

Many tweeters have accused the service of censorship and, under the hashtags #twittercensorship and #twitterblackout, are planning to protest by not tweeting on 28 January in a stand against what they see as a threat to freedom of expression and information. Others question the extent to which this system will be used and if this move by Twitter will result in a shift away from the network

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Twitter faces censorship backlash

Users of social network critical of new system that can censor tweets on a country-by-country basis

  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Article history
    Twitter

    A portion of the Twitter blogpost in which the company announced it has refined its technology so it can censor messages on a country-by-country basis. Photograph: AP

    The social network Twitter is facing a storm of criticism from users, after revealing that it has implemented a system that would let it withhold particular tweets from specific countries.

    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.

    In theory it could have been used last year in the UK to block tweets exposing details hidden by superinjunctions about celebrities, or in 2010 when Trafigura used a superinjunction to block the Guardian and BBC from revealing details about a report on activities in Africa.

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Tweets still must flow

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

One year ago, we posted “The Tweets Must Flow,” in which we said,

“The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact … almost every country in the world agrees that freedom of expression is a human right. Many countries also agree that freedom of expression carries with it responsibilities and has limits.”

As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.

Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.

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