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Twitter Censors German Neo-Nazi Group, Within Germany 227

Posted by timothy
from the they-must-hate-speech dept.
judgecorp writes "Twitter has censored a neo-Nazi group, blocking Besseres Hannover (Better Hannover), a group accused of promoting race hate. This is the first time Twitter has used its power of blocking users in specific countries, announced back in January. Although blocked in Germany, the group is visible to the rest of the world." Update: 10/18 14:46 GMT by T : Note, that's Twitter doing the blocking, not Google, as it appeared originally. HT to reader eldavojohn.
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Twitter Censors German Neo-Nazi Group, Within Germany

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2012 @10:12AM (#41692195)

    It's nothing to raise a führer about!

  • by Bad Ad (729117)
    Google has nothing to do with this? twitter is censoring twitter
  • by DMiax (915735)

    This is the first time Google has used its power of blocking users in specific countries

    Aren't we talking about Twitter? ffs, it's in the title AND the previous sentence!

  • This is both really good and really bad at the same time. Although I want these guys to be shut up, I do not agree that Google should censor opinions even if most of us find those opinions abhorrent.

    • by Zemran (3101)

      Sorry, Twatter

    • by readin (838620)

      This is both really good and really bad at the same time. Although I want these guys to be shut up, I do not agree that Google should censor opinions even if most of us find those opinions abhorrent.

      I would be ok with it if Google/Twitter were simply saying "It's our service and we don't want to be a conduit for this kind of stuff." As a private business it is their service and if you don't like it you can use some other service. The problem is if they're doing it in response to the government. Deciding to use a different government is much harder and too often requires violence.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      This is both really good and really bad at the same time. Although I want these guys to be shut up, I do not agree that Google should censor opinions even if most of us find those opinions abhorrent.

      If the government won't shut them up, the people will. With their boots and fists. That's the only language these fascists understand anyway.

      • by bfandreas (603438)
        We prefer a court of law since rule of boot and fist has already been done. Turns out extremists are better street fighters.
  • Yes! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @10:16AM (#41692265) Homepage
    We're going to show how the Nazis' censorship was wrong, by censoring...whoops...
    • Uh, censorship wasn't exactly the worst thing the Nazis did, and they don't get censored because of the bad things they did, but because their "speach" consists of incitement to hatred.

    • by Boronx (228853)

      What are you complaining about? We used to just kill them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    15 years with no copyediting whatsoever

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @10:30AM (#41692465) Homepage

    In Germany, pro-Nazi speech is illegal. It's not Twitter's fault that they're complying with the law of the country they're doing business in.

    The reason it's illegal is twofold: (1) the United States and other allies imposed that rule on the Germans in 1945. (2) the Germans have since then made a big effort to make it abundantly clear that they are thoroughly sorry for what happened under the Nazis and want to make absolutely certain it never happens again.

    • by hweimer (709734)

      Actually, this has nothing to do with the content of the Twitter feed, and therefore is not really a free speech issue. If you read the actual takedown request [chillingeffects.org], you will find that the Twitter account belongs to an organization that was recently disbanded and its assets (to which the account belongs) being seized by the authorities because its goals and actions were directed at overthrowing the constitutional order.

  • oh they don't? they are two separate companies you say? interesting.
  • 1) Twitter and Google are not the same company. I'm not sure why both are mentioned.

    2) This type of speech is illegal in Germany, and I doubt Twitter feels like putting up much of a fuss to fight in this instance. It makes sense that they'd censor it in the country it's not legal in.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @10:37AM (#41692567) Homepage Journal

    My problem with such censorship is mainly that it doesn't work.

    1. It legitimizes the opposition. To them, their government now appears as a legitimate oppressor. In turn, that conveys legitimacy toward their message. If you really want to destroy them, treat their actions as a more mundane crime, like unlicensed use of unscientific ideas. Or tear a page from the Soviet book and categorize them as insane.

    2. In a pluralistic society, clashes are inevitable. We now have thousands of different groups in just about every country, and most of them oppose almost all the others. Whose god is true? Whose idea of society is true? Socialism is incompatible with capitalism, some religion is incompatible with some science, many ethnic groups hate each other, most life-philosophies and political viewpoints clash, and any ideology is going to first oppose all others because to be an ideology it must claim to be the one right way. That includes pluralism, for Inception fans.

    3. It is a slippery slope, for two reasons. First, the censored group is going to be evasive and start disguising their message. This means you're going to have to censor more and more stuff, and may eventually destroy your government's efficiency with lots and lots of possibly contradictory rules. Second, the more you censor, the greater likelihood that the opposition will be able to use this against you. We're already seeing this with people saying nasty things about Israel regarding Palestinians, in fact, calling them Nazis. I don't think this leads anywhere but to bad.

    4. It teaches your citizens to become sheep. The message from government should not be, "We're going to get rid of bad ideas." It should be that citizens and institutions need to constantly be aware of why certain ideas are opposed. The censorship becomes a rule like traffic laws, which we evade when we can because we don't see a clear connection (mainly because it often does not exist) between going 5 mph faster and carnage on the roads. Imagine this applied to political ideas.

    People usually tell you that censorship leads to 1984 and that may be true, but I find the above list even more likely and more dangerous. They are less exciting though and I'll never get on Letterman this way.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @10:51AM (#41692761) Homepage

      It should be that citizens and institutions need to constantly be aware of why certain ideas are opposed.

      Are you seriously suggesting that an average German doesn't understand why Nazis are trouble? I mean, they only have a large Holocaust monument approximately 350 meters from the seat of government, it's not like they think it's important or something.

      I should point out that it's not any references to Nazis that are illegal, it's references to Nazis that are clearly intended to promote Nazis and Nazi values. The history books have the whole story, and that's fine. A few years ago, there was a production of The Producers, and laughing at Hitler was fine. But that's not what these guys are.

      • by Bigby (659157)

        Isn't that the GP's point? The monument 350m from the seat of government is enough of a reminder. Why put censoring on top of that?

        In America, it is like prohibition vs taxing for cigarettes. If you just banned them, it wouldn't have been nearly as effective as taxing and providing information on why they are bad. 20 years ago it was "cool". Now you are a societal outsider if you smoke.

        You can't censor/prohibit something you don't like. It won't work. Demonizing it is better.

    • I think the main rationale for Germany's censorship laws is that there are still Nazis alive today, though their numbers are fast dwindling.

      Imagine, if you will, that some charismatic former member of the 3d Reich named Schwarzenegger got up and started freely inciting the German populace. Reminding them of the humiliation of losing the previous war and the offences of Foreigners, Jews and outside Nations. How Germany deserves its rightful place at the forefront of the world. People like that are always wit

  • First (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Boronx (228853) <evonreis@nospAM.mohr-engineering.com> on Thursday October 18, 2012 @10:45AM (#41692683) Homepage Journal

    First they came for the Nazis and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Nazi ...

  • I just accessed #BesseresHannover and posted a tweet and I am in Germany. I did however acquire my Twitter account in the US... I wonder if the are blocking it based on the user's IP address or user profile?
  • Without followers, evil cannot spread. -- Spock, "And The Children Shall Lead", stardate 5029.5

    Discuss. :)

  • by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @01:57PM (#41695769)

    People act like the jury is still out on Nazism in Germany, and the best thing to do is allow it to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Neo-nazi's do not want to participate in a competition for hearts and minds. They want to incite hatred and violence towards minorities. They don't want to set up a stall in some metaphorical marketplace. They want to burn the marketplace down.

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

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