January 27, 2012

Twitter Restricts User Content In Certain Countries

Twitter announced on Thursday that it would begin restricting its users from writing about certain content in countries that do not allow free speech.

The microblogging site said that as it continues to expand globally, it is compelled to restrict certain content "for historical or cultural reasons."

For example, Twitter wrote in a blog post that due to historical reasons, France and Germany do not allow pro-Nazi content.

It said it will now start reactively withholding content from users in a specific country, while keeping it available in the rest of the world.

"We haven´t yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld," Twitter wrote in the post.

The news did not come without critics, and the freedom of information advocacy group Reporters Without Borders voiced its concerns to BBC.

"In the bigger scheme of things it just opens up the floodgates," spokeswoman Heather Blake told the news agency. "It allows for Twitter or other internet organizations to censor things. Freedom of information, and freedom of the press can be compromised.

"It would be interesting to ask them what research they have done to show this will help in any way by censoring tweets within countries. Is it problematic, or are they getting pressured by certain organizations or certain regimes within the countries in order to continue to function there?"

Twitter was used last year by anti-government protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and some Arab countries to coordinate mass demonstrations.

The microblogging site reacted last January as revolutions began to break out by writing a blog post entitled "The Tweets Must Flow."

"We do not remove Tweets on the basis of their content," the blog post read. "Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users' right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed."


On the Net: