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  1. #1
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    'Twitter censorship' raises concerns from press freedom group

    'Twitter censorship' raises concerns from press freedom group | Media news | Journalism.co.uk

    'Twitter censorship' raises concerns from press freedom group

    Head of new media at press freedom group Reporters Without Borders says Twitter's ability to 'withhold' content from users based on local restrictions could have 'real consequences' for journalists

    Posted:
    27 January 2012 By: Rachel McAthy


    Twitter has announced it now has 'the ability' to withhold tweets from users based on the restrictions of their country
    Copyright: Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

    Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is preparing an open letter to the chief executive of Twitter, to raise concerns about an announcement that the social media platform now has the power to "reactively withhold" tweets from users to meet country-based restrictions.

    In a blog post on Thursday (26 January), Twitter said previously it would deal with the different restrictions on freedom of expression in countries by taking content down "globally", but that it now has "the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country".

    Such content would remain available to "the rest of the world", the company adds, highlighting that it is "also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why".

    In response to this decision, widely reported in the media as a move which would effectively "censor" tweets, Reporters Without Borders said there could be "real consequences" for journalists and freedom of information, and is preparing an open letter to Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, asking for more details on the way this "ability" will be carried out.

    Head of the new media desk at RSF Lucie Morillon said the organisation is "very concerned" but is still trying to "grasp the extent" of the consequences.

    "Clearly if Twitter is ready to abide by repressive countries then there are real consequences for journalists, bloggers ... It's not only about cyberdissidents from Syria getting information out, but about journalists being able to get information and help circulate it. Then the chain of information is broken."

    She also told Journalism.co.uk that such a move would "go completely against recent events in the Arab world".

    "Twitter had taken a good decision back then in Egypt with its 'Speak to Tweet' telephone service with Google", which was set up amid the internet blackout last year.

    Morillon added that the impact of this move by Twitter is "a different story" when applied in democratic countries where "you can see the rule of law should be more or less OK", although she said there is still a "need to stay vigilant".

    But she said RSF is concerned about the pressure to withhold information in countries such as China, Iran and Bahrain.

    She added that it was unclear whether Twitter would wait for a judicial order, to make a decision, "or if a simple call from the authorities will be enough".

    At the moment she said it is "very vague" and raised "a lot of questions", which RSF's letter is likely to ask for answers to.

    But she added that allowing a "different version of freedom of expression according to different countries" would be "completely unacceptable".

    "It is all the more worrying as Twitter is a Western-based company. I don't see what the business value is. I would like to see how the assessment was made by Twitter."

    She added: "It is important for us and all people who care about freedom of expression to put pressure on Twitter and call on the company to reverse this policy."

    In its blog post, Twitter said it is keen to "enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression", but stressed that there will be countries where their approach "differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there".

    But the company said there are other countries with "similar" ideas, such as France and Germany, where "for historical or cultural reasons" certain content is restricted.

    The post adds that it has not yet put this into practice, "but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld".
    "Slavery is the daughter of darkness; an ignorant people is the blind instrument of its own destruction; ambition and intrigue take advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men who have no political, economic or civil knowledge. They mistake pure illusion for reality, license for freedom, treason for patriotism, vengeance for justice."-Simón Bolívar

  2. #2
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    Twitter’s country-specific censorship tool prompts user protest - The Washington Post

    Twitter’s country-specific censorship tool prompts user protest


    View Photo Gallery — Participants in the Arab Spring used Twitter and other social media sites to organize.

    By Hayley Tsukayama, Friday, January 27, 9:39 PM

    Some Twitter users say they will stop using the service on Saturday in protest of the company’s new rule that allows for content to be blocked in specific countries.

    The policy, announced Thursday, on the company’s blog will enable the company to block specific tweets on a country-by-country basis when the content runs afoul of local laws.

    Several global companies, including Google and Facebook, already have similar policies to remove content to comply with individual countries’ laws regarding speech — one of the most commonly cited examples of a law like this is Germany’s prohibition against pro-Nazi content. Critics worry that Twitter’s policy will destroy its capability to work as a platform for impromptu social movements, a role it played so prominently during the Arab Spring.

    “Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world,” the Twitter post read, in part. “We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.”

    Posting messages with the hashtags “#TwitterBlackout” and “#TwitterCensored,” users vowed to let the company know that they opposed the new policy. Several of the tweets were in Arabic.

    The company said that as it continues to grow globally it’s had to rethink its policies on free expression. “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression,” the post said. “Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there,” the post said.

    Demand Progress penned a quick open letter to the company asking Twitter to “keep fighting for and enabling freedom of expression — not rationalize away totalitarianism as a legitimate “different idea.”

    Twitter spokesman Matt Graves explained that the company will first notify an individual user when his or her content is withheld. Next, it will post clear notice to users in the country where the content is being withheld. Finally, users outside of the country that asked for the content to be taken down will still be able to see the content.

    Twitter said that it created the tool to censor by country in order to prevent having to remove illegal content from its global network. Restrictions will be based on a users’ IP address, and users will be able to select their country though their account settings if Twitter misidentifies their country.

    The company said that it has yet to use this new function, and will attempt to let users know when their content is being reactively withheld from a certain country. It says it has taken steps to make sure that the rest of the world will be able to see when tweets are removed from a given country.

    The company is also working with the Web site Chilling Effects — a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities — to post all the takedown notices it receives, whether from copyright holders or from foreign governments. Twitter has already begun posting copyright takedown requests.

    Google already uses Chilling Effects to share its takedown notices and also compiles those notices Transparency Report — which many have used as a tool to examine the global Web censorship picture.

  3. #3
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    Thailand welcomes Twitter’s censorship
    Dave Neal
    Mon Jan 30 2012

    Will work with it on message routing

    THE THAI GOVERNMENT has welcomed the news that Twitter will be happy to censor messages geographically and has said that it will work with the firm on just that.

    Last week Twitter announced that it will let countries request bans on certain content while keeping it available for the rest of the world.

    "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," it said.

    "Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries' limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country."

    In an interview with the Bangpost Post, Thailand's government head of Information Technology said that her ministry will contact Twitter about the option and will use it to its advantage.

    It is a "welcome development", according to ICT permanent secretary Jeerawan Boonperm. She added that the country already has "good cooperation" from Google and Facebook when it comes to ensuring that Thai laws are respected.

    Thailand has a difficult relationship with the internet and modern communications and doesn't hesitate to stamp down harshly on political dissenters.

    In February last year we reported that a Thai web site manager was facing up to 20 years in prison for failing to remove comments that were critical of the country's monarchy, while in November a man was imprisoned for sending rude text messages about the King.

    theinquirer.net

  4. #4
    Dan
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    THE THAI GOVERNMENT has welcomed the news that Twitter will be happy to censor messages
    What a depressing sentence that is.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan View Post
    THE THAI GOVERNMENT has welcomed the news that Twitter will be happy to censor messages
    What a depressing sentence that is.
    I think the implication is that Twitter will be better at it than those clowns at the ministry of fucking up the internet.

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