Guest post by Camille Remoroza.
What has happened to freedom of speech? This is the cry of most people who are against the censorship of some tweets in specific areas. Just recently, Twitter announced that it has completed a system that selectively censors tweets on a country-by-country basis.
Twitter users are upset over this new technology as a result of the Company’s attempt to widen their scope to other countries in order to gain more profit. They have branded Twitter’s assurance to free speech as severely compromised or weakened. However, Twitter said that this step would not get that freedom away from people but will ensure that more and more users can read tweets in line with social, cultural and legislative responsibility.
Expanding their business meant that they have to go in countries which have various ideas about the level of freedom of expression. Though most nations are lenient about this, some are quite held back or strict in terms of public media. Take for example in France and Germany; pro-Nazi tweets will be banned accordingly. This is a way to respect their laws.
Moreover, Twitter also guaranteed that a censorship notice will be received by the account user once it’s removed. The notice contains the reason and the possible legal implications of the post. Twitter is also looking into sharing these removal requests from governments, companies and individuals at the chillingeffects.org website.
It has been said that it is also a response to some reports that through Twitter and Facebook, several protests and riots in the world was put into reality. This is likely linked to the revolution in Egypt years ago to dismantle the government as well as in the U.K. riot. Without a doubt, Twitter is one of the most powerful and fast growing social media site in the internet. Through simple tweets, it is acting like a loud megaphone that resonates around the world.
However, a case was reported before that Twitter erased a tweet and was completely unseen throughout the whole world. This caused a lot of hysteria to Twitter users regarding their freedom to tweet anything they want. It is related to the Company’s blog post that it had not used the new technology yet at that time. Once the tweet is censored, it would completely be wiped out around the world. Those previous cases were mostly about child pornography.
Now, Twitter’s new technology will specifically block a topic only from the country that doesn’t allow it. But you are ensured that your tweet can be seen elsewhere.
So how will you know if your tweets are withheld?
You will actually receive several notifications about it. The very first thing you will find is a gray tweet on your timeline showing this phrase: “Tweet withheld. This tweet from @yourusername has been withheld in: Specific country.” You can actually know additional information by clicking on the Learn More link. If you see this in your timeline, or another user’s timeline, that means some of the tweets were censored in the country specified.
Furthermore, in severe cases, an account will be withheld signified by another gray tweet with the phrase: “Account withheld. This account @yourusername has been withheld in: Specific country.”
Nonetheless, this has been a very hot issue among Twitter users. But the Company is stern about their decision which is in line with their core values. According to a post from blog.twitter.com, “One of our core values as a company is to defend and respect each user’s voice. We try to keep content up wherever and whenever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we can’t. The Tweets must continue to flow.”