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Censorship Communications Government Social Networks Twitter Your Rights Online

Twitter Can Now Block Tweets In Specific Countries 151

itwbennett writes "In a blog post on Thursday, Twitter announced that it can now block individual Tweets in specific countries, while leaving them visible in other countries. 'We try to keep content up whenever and wherever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we can't,' the blog said. Twitter will publish requests it receives to block content through its partnership with Chilling Effects."
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Twitter Can Now Block Tweets In Specific Countries

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  • by srjh ( 1316705 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @11:43PM (#38836217)

    I wouldn't necessarily applaud them for this - operating under the laws of a specific country may well be a case of having their hands tied.

    However this is the right way to go about applying government censorship, if there is such a thing. Let those in the censoring country see a "your government has banned this tweet" message, and letting everyone else see "The X government has banned this Tweet, but here it is because you're not in X" will shed light on what was being censored, will shed light on the censorship itself, and both the attention and the trivial nature of defeating censorship will let those in the relevant country see it anyway.

    That is something that arguably can be applauded.

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @11:47PM (#38836241)

    How am I supposed to build a webpage, when I have no clue what hyperlinked content will actually be available to the viewer? This is ridiculous.

  • Re:Proxy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @11:58PM (#38836283) Homepage Journal
    No, it is very relevant. Besides the fact that not everyone knows about proxies(and they are still not trivial to use on mobile devices, which is what many protesters use), you also have the fact that this is very much a "silent" form of censorship. Unlike less "refined" methods of censorship(for instance the "great firewall of China" where whole sites are blocked), you may not even realize that something had been censored. I doubt there are a significant number of people so paranoid that they constantly connect via a proxy just to check their twitter, esp. since proxies can often introduce a non-trivial amount of latency.
  • natural right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:08AM (#38836315) Journal

    A lot of other countries do not hold the same western values of free speech as the rest of us. Why can't some people respect that?

    Because free speech is a natural right that all human beings are born with. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with "western values" (whatever the hell those are). The fact is that all human beings have the ability to engage in free speech; Governments or individuals may punish you for exercising that ability but the ability is still there. It's the same with the 2nd Amendment really -- you can regulate weapons all you want but people can still obtain and use them. Doubt this? Ask the guy who just got shanked in prison if the person who stabbed him didn't keep and bear arms.

    BTW, you need not limit yourself to the US Constitution. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
    Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

  • by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:24AM (#38836603)
    I know you're trying to joke but it honestly wouldn't surprise me that the entertainment industry would want to go after people who posted spoilers.
  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:45AM (#38836817)

    You are naive. Pirates are just the strawmen, the real goal of SOPA is to eliminate all user-generated content that threatens the monopoly of the Big Media.

  • The AC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:07AM (#38837071)

    I routinely post AC, even though I have a /. account. Want to know why? So that that any of the insider knowledge I have limits it's damage to /. if I decide to shoot my mouth off about a previous employer or some other entity. It's much easier to just post as AC than it is to create an account that can be purged or censored all at once.

    This is the lesson for Twitter. Censoring individual tweets, treating them like spam, are the same thing. But The US is the only country in the world where free speech is enshrined by the Constitution. In every other country, you do not have free speech, and saying the wrong thing as a citizen of that country can send you to jail, even though you said it on a foreign website.

    In some cases it's morally safer to remove free speech when it puts the practioner of the speech into severe danger. The Westboro loonys may say some horrible things, but they do so at their own peril. It's one thing Americans tend to forget, is that their free speech ends at the US Border.

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @05:14AM (#38837295) Homepage

    This move by Twitter has been completely misunderstood. It is difficult to find a platform more committed to free speech than Twitter.

    What has changed is that what used to be a global censorship is now limited to the governments that force the material offline.

    In the past, if a country in which Twitter was doing business told them to pull a tweet, they'd have to pull it around the world. Now, it will a. only be pulled in the country that ordered the Tweet censored, b. the person who wrote it will find out about it, and c. the chilling effects clearing house will be notified.

    Every country will censor something. The US will censor state secrets, libel and slander, and threats. In France, denying either the Armenian or Jewish holocausts will be censored. In some countries, blasphemy is censored. In Germany, any discussion of the Nazis is censored. Before this policy by Twitter, all those things would result in a global ban.

    I really don't understand the outrage (I do understand the outrage at the governments which censor, but not at Twitter.) Is reading comprehension so universally bad?

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @05:38AM (#38837401) Homepage

    In the past, there would be simply silence. A government order would be delivered to a Twitter (or a Facebook or a forum) and the material would disappear, everywhere. Often the material was child pornography - most links removed by Twitter last year were child porn links.

    Now, there is a trace left for every act of censorship. When a government demands something be removed (and this will only matter for those countries in which Twitter is doing business and has offices - e.g., not Iran, but France, Germany, etc) the rest of us will find out, as will the twitterer. This is the minimum amount of accommodation that Twitter can make to a censoring government while still doing business in that country at all, and is less accommodation than they used to do, or anyone else (including Slashdot) does.

    So, yes, I am applauding Twitter for letting me know that they were ordered by the government to censor me, for reporting the act of censorship to Chilling Effects, and for routing around that censorship where that government has no authority.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich