Twitter’s promise to remain uncensored subject to the whims of foreign governmentsPosted: January 31, 2012 | |
By Maria Torres
This past Thursday, Twitter announced that it would now “reactively withhold content from users in a specific country” in accordance with local laws. This new strategy is not the same as completely removing tweets from the site. Instead, as Danny Sullivan explains, “… if Twitter gets a request to remove content under the laws of another country, it can react to remove that content just for people in those particular countries.”
Sullivan notes in the Marketing Land article that, in the past, Twitter has removed (and will continue to remove) tweets that are “illegal” in the Twitter-verse in order to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Although this may seem like an act of censorship, it is outlined in Twitter’s policies that users who infringe on copyright are subject to the removal of those tweets that do just that. (The Chilling Effects site provides examples of tweets that have been removed for violation of copyright.)
No matter how clear Twitter is in explaining its motives, there are still users who believe their rights are being limited. Some see the censorship of tweets in certain countries as potentially dangerous. Since so many people relied on tweets during the uprisings in 2011, the general fear is that governments that ban tweeting about protests might cause Twitter users to miss out on important details about possible conflicts.
Is Twitter really so evil, even if it is not actually removing the censored content? Do these governments that do not share our beliefs of freedom of expression pose any long-term issues for the future of Twitter and any of its social-networking counterparts? Should U.S. companies stop globalizing themselves just because the countries they want to enter fail to agree with their own values?
Keep in mind that Google has been doing a similar censorship of search results for years now. What makes Twitter any different?