New York: The social network Twitter is facing a storm of criticism from users, after introducing a system that lets it censor specific tweets or block whole user accounts in some countries, while leaving them visible in others.
The new system, which can filter tweets on a country-by-country basis and has already been incorporated into the site’s output, will not change Twitter’s approach to freedom of expression, sources there indicated.
However, activists in countries such as Syria or China might be concerned that they would be unable to see information they need to know.
Twitter insists that the system will only formalise a system it already uses, where tweets are blocked or deleted following full judicial process. Being able to limit tweets to particular countries, rather than blocking them altogether, expands its ability to “let tweets flow”.
In a blogpost, it points out that France and Germany restrict pro-Nazi content; under the US’s First Amendment, tweets with such view would be legal in the US while illegal in those countries.
Google, Yahoo, eBay and Facebook already use similar systems to control what content is shown in which countries.
Twitter says it will continue to post requests for the blocking or censoring of tweets to the Chilling Effects site