A new Twitter policy which goes into effect today allows the social network “to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country,” so that Twitter can further expand globally and “enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression.”
The Twitter blog post announcing this news was titled “Tweets still must flow.” And yes they must, but apparently in some countries, only if they’re censored? Snip:
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. As part of that transparency, we’ve expanded our partnership with Chilling Effects to share this new page, http://chillingeffects.org/twitter, which makes it easier to find notices related to Twitter.
Also via Xeni Jardin, here’s Jillian C. York of the EFF, valiantly attempting to squeeze lemonade out of raw sewage:
From my view, this isn’t different from how Twitter’s already been handling court-ordered requests, except that it won’t affect users outside of a given country. Given their moves to open an office in the UK (with all of its crazy defamation laws), I can see why they’ve taken this route. It’s unfortunate that they may have to censor any content at all, but I applaud their move to be as transparent as possible about it.
Related: Reporters Without Borders weighs in:
Head of the new media desk at RSF Lucie Morillon said the organisation is “very concerned” but is still trying to “grasp the extent” of the consequences.
“Clearly if Twitter is ready to abide by repressive countries then there are real consequences for journalists, bloggers … It’s not only about cyberdissidents from Syria getting information out, but about journalists being able to get information and help circulate it. Then the chain of information is broken.“
She also told Journalism.co.uk that such a move would “go completely against recent events in the Arab world”.