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Twitter Ignites Protest With New Censorship Plan

Submitted by on January 29, 2012 – 10:22 am3 Comments

Twitter ignited a wave of protest and outrage this week when it announced  revised rules to censor tweets that violate the laws of individual nations. But the company has argued against critics, saying this new policy is a step forward from the old system, which deleted tweets on an international level.

January 28th was declared to be a day of protest, inspired by the popular internet blackout on January 18th that effectively raised awareness about the SOPA and PIPA legislation. The hashtags #TwitterBlackout,#TwitterCensored, and #J28 trended the day before, and many users refrained from using the microblogging site.

The new policy would see Twitter removing offending tweets on a national level; for example, Holocaust denial in France (which bans such statements) or government criticism in China would be removed from viewing in those countries, but would still be viewable internationally. Previously, offending tweets had to be removed entirely from the site (they wouldn’t be viewable anywhere). Twitter has argued that this is a necessary step for penetrating new markets like China, which has blocked the site in the past.

But critics argue that Twitter is bowing to censorship, violating the very principles that have helped it revolutionize social media. Furthermore, users in censored countries often found ways around the firewalls anyway. They fear that these new actions could prevent Twitter from having the same massive effect on communication that it did during the recent Arab Spring, allowing citizens to circumvent oppressive regimes.

“By finally choosing to align itself with the censors, Twitter is depriving cyberdissidents in repressive countries of a crucial tool for information and organization,” said a statement from Reporters Without Borders.

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, who has been jailed for his vocal opposition, tweeted, “If Twitter censors, I’ll stop tweeting.”

What do you think? Will this new policy increase or decrease free communication?

[Source: The Huffington Post]

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