IT Chimes Blog

Twitter faces censorship charges

January 31, 2012

Twitter, the micro blogging website that played a pivotal role in the Arab Spring of 2011, faces censorship charges on Friday after it announced that it can now block tweets on a country-by-country basis if legally required to do so.

140-character long tweets or messages were used by protestors during the uprising in Syria, Egypt and Libya to report facts and voice their opinion on the ground reality.

San Francisco-based Twitter presses that its move in no way compromises its commitment to free speech. However, its announcement has sparked off protests and anti-Twitter campaigns the world over by activists and users alike. They are calling to boycott the services Twitter altogether for curbing their right to free speech.

People are also questioning Twitter’s motive towards such a move. Olivier Basille, director of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) questioned if Twitter’s move was motivated by a desire to enter China, where the service is currently blocked.

In its blog post, Twitter explained that the ability to block tweets by specific country would allow the rest of the world to continue to see them.

Twitter pledged to be transparent and said it would post details of any removal of content to, a public database of takedown requests.

“As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression,” Twitter said. “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,” Twitter said.

Technology bloggers said Twitter, by giving itself the ability to block content selectively for legal reasons, was falling in line with practices already followed by other Web giants such as Google, Facebook and eBay.

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