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Twitter announced on Thursday that it would be implementing the ability to withhold content from users in a specific country. Before the announcement, Twitter’s only option was to remove the content globally.
Despite being held by critics to its lofty ideals, the manner in which Twitter is implementing its geographic censorship is rather elegant. For a start the company is being honest and open about the change. While some argue that Twitter should draw a line in the sand, the company can be more influential by having a presence in a country, rather than none at all.
About expanding its presence in countries with sensitive censorship laws Twitter states:
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 seems committed to continue playing an integral part in human rights and freedom of expression as it did during the uprisings last year.
Xeni Jardin from BoingBoing.net asked Jillian York, Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for her take on the policy change and she responded as follows:
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.