Yesterday, Twitter announced that it will start censoring tweets in certain countries as a concession to governments as the service expands globally. On the official Twitter blog they wrote:
As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there.
This is obviously an issue of major concern for those of us who value the social media service and the freedom it offers to make friends and communicate internationally.
For those who use Twitter daily in America, it is impossible to forget the role it played during the Egyptian Revolution, when the American corporate media failed to provide a good (and sometimes even incorrrect) picture of what was going on in Egypt. This past fall, during Occupy Wall Street, Twitter again proved its value as a social tool that can galvanize protest independent of traditional media channels that have long had a monopoly on the public arena.
We must stand up and demand Twitter not give in to government control. Demand Progress has created an online petition that we encourage you to sign.
We don’t t think it’s time to panic yet and we will continue to stay informed and share information as we learn about Twitter’s plans. Right now here are some useful links to help you understand the issues.
- “Twitter Country Blocks: 10 Key Facts” (Information Week) — which mentions Twitter already bans pro-Nazi content in places like Germany and France, which restricts such content.
- “Twitter to Censor Tweets Country-by-Country” (ABC News blog)
- “Activists and Bloggers Fear Twitter Censorship” (USA Today)
- “What Would It Take to Get Twitter Unblocked in China?” (China Realtime Report/WSJ)
Also, Ai Weiwei he will quit tweeting if they start to censor:
— 艾未未Ai Weiwei (@aiww) January 27, 2012
And here is a tweet of concern that Twitter is becoming more like the highly restricted (and censored) Sina Weibo from the research assistant to Danah Boyd, who is senior researcher at Microsoft, an assistant professor at New York University and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard:
Might as well just switch to Sina Weibo now. blog.twitter.com/2012/01/tweets…
— Alex Leavitt (@alexleavitt) January 26, 2012