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Censorship Communications Social Networks Twitter

Twitter Capitulates To Governments, Censors Users 91

Posted by timothy
from the cost-of-doing-business-with-hitler dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Twitter made a public stance in 2011 to remain a platform for free speech, having helped fuel movements such as the Arab Spring. This past week, however, Twitter is shown to have complied with Russian government demands to block a pro-Ukrainian Twitter feed from reaching Russian citizens, with Turkish government demands that it remove content that the Turkish government wants removed, and with a Pakistani bureaucrat's request that content he considers blasphemous and unethical be censored in Pakistan. Given Twitter's role in the democratic uprisings of the past few years, what do these capitulations bode for future movements? Will other platforms take Twitter's place? Or is the importance to democracy of platforms such as Twitter overblown?"
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Twitter Capitulates To Governments, Censors Users

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  • Blasphemer! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday May 26, 2014 @08:22AM (#47091623)

    Never again can you say on Twitter "Look, I'd had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was: That piece of halibut was good enough for Allah."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What has the Pythons ever done for us?

    • by matbury (3458347)

      Brian: Please, please, please listen! I've got one or two things to say.

      The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!

      Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!

      The Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!

      Brian: You're all different!

      The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!

      Man in crowd: I'm not...

      The Crowd: Sch!

      Re: The questions in the post...

      What do these capitulations bode for future movements? - Nothin

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Monday May 26, 2014 @08:24AM (#47091633)
    When your little boutique startup catches fire enough to go IPO and get listed on the NYSE, then you may have to make a few ethical and moral compromises to keep that Mercedes.
    • The shackles of wealth, then?

      Heavy is the head that bears the crown.

      • The shackles of wealth, then?

        Heavy is the head that bears the crown.

        That refers to the burden of being a ruler. Has nothing to do with wealth.

        • by RR (64484)

          The shackles of wealth, then?

          Heavy is the head that bears the crown.

          That refers to the burden of being a ruler. Has nothing to do with wealth.

          What difference does that make in contemporary capitalism?

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        The shackles of wealth, then?
        Heavy is the head that bears the crown.

        No, fickle are the principles of the wallet that pockets the cash.

    • Compromise, n.: see cop-out.
    • When your little boutique startup catches fire enough to go IPO and get listed on the NYSE, then you may have to make a few ethical and moral compromises to keep that Mercedes.

      Except that after the IPO, you already have all their money, so why compromise?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2014 @08:26AM (#47091641)

    more often than to promote uprising. in China theres a girl who got a year in a labor camp for a joke tweet she made.

    the whole 'free speech' thing may have been a PR gimmick. twitter, like facebook, allows massive spying and encourages people to destroy their own privacy.

    twitter is the illusion of free speech. the only really free speech is private speech, and there is no such thing as private electronic speech.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly.

      Freedom of speech belongs to the owners of the presses.

      Or, as Lehrer put it, "All their rights respected - until somebody we like gets elected."

      Twitter's a platform for surveillance which will be left alone as long as people are saying the right things, the useful idiots guided by mainstream media to say the right things: it's fucking easy to sway the 140-character crowd.

    • What I find sad is that so many people feel like they are doing something when they tweet [twitter.com].

      - Ms. Obama could have taken action against radical Islamic organizations. Instead, a sharpie, a piece of paper, a tweet - and she's done. Thanks, Michelle, good job.

      - Ms. Obama could have a chat with her hubby about the way the USA supports terrorist organizations [thedailybeast.com] even giving aid to organization like Al Qaeda [globalresearch.ca] that the US is supposedly fighting.

      But no, that would require actual effort and taking a genuine stand. Wherea

    • the only really free speech is private speech

      No, the only real free speech is anonymous speech. (Ask Donald Sterling how that "private" speech worked out for him.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The problem is that everybody has been favoring curated communications services where it is all under control of one party, Facebook or Twitter say. When you do that you are at the mercy of what that party wants to allow.

    That is contrary to the original intent of the internet to "route around censorship". Which it could still do.... if people didn't all flock to curated services.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Internet, it has been said, regards censorship as damage and routes around it.

    Nowadays, in consumerist capitalism, consumers choose centralized services over decentralized ones because decentralized stuff is "too hard". Besides, business models are just too invested into centralizing.

    We humans seem to be too stupid for our own good. And we software designers are working hard to keep users as stupid as ever.

    Freed^^^^^Oh! Shiny!

  • by symes (835608) on Monday May 26, 2014 @08:49AM (#47091731) Journal

    Trying to find out whose twitter feed is causing all the commotion, but no joy. It would seem entirely appropriate to simply retweet the tweets.

  • killing free speech on the internet one domain at a time, fuck you twitter i hope you become irrelevant and a truly free speech enabled domain takes your place allowing all users anonymous free speech
    • If they capitulate to the government in Russia, an arguably unavoidable cost of doing business there, what is the likelihood other nations will not soon demand the same accommodation?
  • by ZeRu (1486391) on Monday May 26, 2014 @08:52AM (#47091761)
    This shouldn't surprise anyone. Wasn't there a case years ago where Yahoo helped Chinese authorities arrest a blogger?
    Even the "Don't be evil" company would happily turn you to authorities if you happen to use their search engine to find out how to construct a homemade bomb (their "autocomplete/suggestion" feature isn't really your best friend), and it doesn't matter if you live in a 3rd world country or not, since a suspicion of terrorism is enough to have you detained indefinitely even in a "land of the free".
  • by burnttoy (754394) on Monday May 26, 2014 @09:21AM (#47091875) Homepage Journal

    Flame wars with white supremacists, generally antagonising and goading friends, and enemies, on Usenet. Pointless navel gazing arguments about the nature of nothing and everything. Using rude words, racial epithets, the shout down, the noise... maybe even anarchy.

    Now everyone seems to be out there busy judging everybody, involving the authorities and more.

    Frankly, possibly unfairly, most of the peeps on the net in the early 90s and before understood it was the wild-west of communications... If someone was being a cunt you told them so. If it turned out to be you several folks would probably tell you. These folk were different - I guess, maybe, it went with the territory. It was new and the folks out there bleeding edgers.

    It was no place for bruisable egos, political correctness et al - yet, to me, it felt right. People didn't get fired over righteous indignation from some pointless corner of the net. 140 character vomit was not front page news.

    The media at large really think that one persons opinion on Twitter is worthy of news... in the old days it was just flotsam and jetsam... if they were being an arse they got called that and that was, usually, that. Either that or the media just see a cheap story in repeating someone's anally generated hyperbole.

    *meh*

    • by geekoid (135745)

      You call those the old days? I remember sharing data, getting work done, no spam and rarely a flame war.

  • Rights != Democracy (Score:5, Informative)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Monday May 26, 2014 @09:35AM (#47091931)
    From the summary:

    Twitter made a public stance in 2011 to remain a platform for free speech [snip] Or is the importance to democracy of platforms such as Twitter overblown?

    There are two different things being discussed here, and it's important to keep them separate.

    Free speech is a right, i.e., something that governments should not be able to restrict arbitrarily -- whether those governments are democratic, communist, monarchies, whatever.

    Democracy is a form of government, and history has shown us that democracy is very capable of taking away rights, just like any other form of government. There is a reason that many philosophers from the ancient Greeks up to the Founders of the U.S. and beyond were afraid of "mob rule." When governmental policy is just determined by majority vote, there are plenty of times when the majority will vote away "fundamental rights" for various reasons (for example, to try to prevent some fear or threat to security).

    Free speech is generally a necessary component to promote change in government -- whether that government is democratic or aristocratic or whatever. Thus, the fight for free speech should be about rights, regardless of the form of government. There are all sorts of "democratic" countries in the world who lack a lot of fundamental freedoms, including free speech. And, as recent history has shown us, simply "rebranding" a country as a "democracy" does NOT automatically make it "more free."

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Good post. Its nice to see some understands the difference.

      In fact, it's such a refreshing post on slashdot, I'm just going to stop reading for the rest of the day. Leave on a high note, if you will.

    • by mrvan (973822)

      I agree with this distinction, and free speech and democracy are certainly not the same. Democracy in its most basal form is majority rule, e.g. distribution of power via some sort of election system. In a sense this is more than a "form of government", since it entails the rights to elect and to be elected.

      However, political scientists generally agree that for democracy to have meaning there is a cluster of other rights that are needed to make sure that people can actually elect someone based on their pref

      • However, political scientists generally agree that for democracy to have meaning there is a cluster of other rights that are needed to make sure that people can actually elect someone based on their preferences or interests, and these rights include freedom of speech, of organization/congregation, rule of law, some form of minority protection, etc.

        While of course you're right, I think that's stacking the deck in favor of desirable features of democracies, rather than actual features of historical democracies. Philosophers for thousands of years have pointed out the potential for democracies to degrade into tyranny or other totalitarian states by voluntary vote of the population, and it's happened historically quite a few times (though generally by stages). It's not the freedom to vote and choose that protects rights -- it's the status of rights AS

        • by mrvan (973822)

          It's not the freedom to vote and choose that protects rights -- it's the status of rights AS rights, i.e., things that are inviolate and CANNOT BE VOTED ON.

          I've heard it said that what really determines the strength of a democracy and its role in keeping people free is not simply whether people can vote, but what things are NOT up for a vote. (And this includes both making sure people are actually free to cast votes for their choices, as well as restricting those votes so that they cannot violate things like fundamental rights.)

          This is exactly the tension between majority rule and other rights that I tried to paint. As it is, any democracy that I know about has a mechanism for updating its constitution (or whatever passes for it). In the US, that means a supermajority in congress plus 75% of the states. In the Netherlands, it requires two votes in Parliament with an election in between, the second vote needing a supermajority. Many countries require some sort of referendum. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]. Point is, the cur

  • by swb (14022) on Monday May 26, 2014 @09:39AM (#47091967)

    I'm pretty sure for Twitter this all boils down to money and investors and the usual capitalist bullshit, which seems kind of sad.

    But it also seems predictable, because has public speech other than the soapbox in a park or printing your own newspaper ever been truly uncensored? Or has some kind of censorship always prevailed, whether it was relatively benign (and occasionally insidious) decorum, popularity/lack of popularity, commercial, or even the more onerous state/institutional imposed?

    It'd be nice to see Twitter stand up against censorship, especially the particularly noxious kind imposed with a mixture of religious ignorance and state authority.

    But I can't say I'm surprised at all.

  • Twitter may be, unconsciously, moving out of the way so that someone can replace it with something better and less susceptible to the control of oxygen thieves.

  • If your social revolution depends on Twitter, you've already lost.
  • Your concept of right and wrong change, often in radical ways. Don't want to lose out on major world markets due to some antiqued concept of morality.

  • This Twitter has been censored for a long time, at least since 2007. I know this first-hand. If you don't believe that, then obviously you've never tried to tweet anything worth censoring.

  • Twitter's implementation of localized censorship is leaky by design. Users can specify in their settings what country they're in -- and that overrides any guess that Twitter might make about location from, say, IP address. So any Russian who wants to see what's missing -- after conveniently being alerted by Twitter that a given tweet is not accessible in that country -- can just switch to another country. Seems a pretty pragmatic move to prevent Twitter engineers from being arrested or money from being s
  • This is why many have signed onto Social media like Twitter and Facebook, to express their anger with their governments and plight for democracy. It is these vehicles we all learn the cries and plights of others across the world. Now these very same Social Media services are working to stiffel this movement. Makes one wonder if there is a movement towards so called World Order.

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw

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