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Twitter: Censoring

If a country wants something censored, Twitter is willing to do it.

Twitter is probably not known as being in favor of censorship, but has decided to censor Tweets within certain countries at the countries’ request. If a Tweet is censored by Twitter, the person getting censored will get notified directly by Twitter itself.

If someone Tweets something in Germany or France that is viewed as pro-Nazi for example, Twitter is likely to censor the pro-Nazi Tweets right out of the Twitter stream in just those countries, but not only Germany and France will be affected.

It might be easy for most of us to agree with censoring pro-Nazi materials, but censored Tweets in Thailand and China are more difficult for most of us in democracies to defend. (According to THIS, both Thailand and China are all in favor of Twitter’s move, which is at the same time predictable and disturbing.)

According to the Online Journalism Blog, thousands of Twitter users are boycotting Twitter based on its decision to censor their users. But the blog also cites specific examples from “The Net Delusion” in which other social media outlets and corporations have also censored their users. Some examples include: Facebook censoring groups during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Apple censoring pro-Tibetan apps from the iPhone.

As the Online Journalism Blog also points out, Twitter’s censorship will take a different form than the censorship because Twitter will just censor the content within the individual country and not throughout the world. From what I understand, most other cases of censorship by social media have been everywhere and were not just specific to the certain country.
The other potential ramifications to Twitter’s decision to censor are in the middle east where Twitter has played a valuable role in pro-democracy protests; organizers utilized Twitter to organize protests while pro-democracy supporters worldwide changed their locations to make it more difficult for officials to find and locate the organizers. If Twitter censors within countries like Iran, it will make it increasingly more difficult for organizers to use social media to organize protests.

The world will be watching to see whether or not the Twitter “protests” and “boycotts” will have any noticeable effect on Twitter’s decision to censor in individual countries. How much impact the protests may have may depend on the number of protestors and boycotters there are and how the press reports on it.