Twitter to Censor Content in Certain Countries

Twitter logoTwitter is giving itself the right to withhold content in specific countries, while keeping that content available for the rest of the world, the company announced Thursday.

Until now, the only way for Twitter to censor content was to universally eliminate it from the site. This change means content deemed inappropriate by a specific government can be withheld locally, explains a blog post called "The Tweets Still Must Flow."

"When we receive a request from an authorized entity, we will act in accordance with appropriate laws and our terms of service," a Twitter rep told Mashable.

If and when content is withheld, affected users will be notified of either an account or tweet's censorship. Twitter will make that decision public on Chilling Effects, through an expanded partnership that charts Cease and Desist Notices.

If this sounds to you like something Twitter said it would never do, you're onto something. Last year, the company posted a similarly titled blog post, "The Tweets Must Flow."

“The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact," the original post said. "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.”

The post comes one day after Twitter announced it would be becoming available in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu -- languages written from right-to-left and spoken in many countries associated with strict government media restrictions.

Mustafa Kazemi, a war correspondent in Afghanistan, points out that Twitter users in countries with government censorship have yet to find out what this will mean for them.

Kazemi suspects recent calls from members of the U.S. government to remove the Taliban from Twitter are at the root of this policy update.

"This censorship can be a blow to the independence and freedom of speech online and will widely affect the twitter usage market globally, particularly in the countries where there is a high graph of anti-US activities online," Kazemi told Mashable.

Though Twitter states in the blog post that it will do its best to keep content up whenever possible and will be transparent when it takes down content, is that enough?

Should Twitter make compromises with censoring governments for the sake of global expansion? Let us know in the comments if you think growing with restrictions is the right move for the microblog.

Tags: Twitter

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