Back in January Twitter announced that it would be blocking tweets on a country-by-country basis. Now the policy has been implemented for the first time against a German hate group.
The report reveals that the German Ministry of the Interior for Lower-Saxony had banned the “Besseres Hannover” (Better Hanover) organisation, which is apparently Neo Nazi in nature. Such organisations are illegal under German law.
The ministry went so far as to request that the account be seized and that no future accounts for the group be allowed to open:
The organisation “Besseres Hannover” uses the Twitter account….
I ask you to close this account immediately and not to open any substitute accounts for the organisation “Besseres Hannover”.
That’s obviously not feasible for the social network. Its new guidelines however allow it to block the account in Germany.
So while the rest of the world can see the group’s Twitter account, no one in Germany can.
Interestingly Twitter predicted that it would likely have to deal with Neo Nazi content when it first rolled out the policy in January:
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. 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’s censorship policy drew some ire when it was first announced. As we noted then however, it’s actually pretty elegant.
The social network has at least been honest and open about the change. The fact that it submitted the report to Chilling Effects only underlines that.
Some may argue that Twitter should draw a line in the sand but it can be more influential by having a presence in a country, rather than none at all.