wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: World

Our Correspondents on Twitter

The Post's Foreign Bureaus

View all correspondents by bureau

WorldViews
Anchored by Melissa Bell |  Get Updates: On Twitter Twitter |  On Facebook Facebook |  RSS RSS
Posted at 04:19 PM ET, 01/30/2012

China, Thailand support censorship of Twitter

In some countries, what you tweet may no longer see the light of day.


The Twitter bird. (Oli Scarff)
China and Thailand have voiced their support for Twitter’s new policy to censor tweets in nations where the content might break laws.

“It is important for [Twitter] to respect the cultures and ideas of different countries so as to blend into local environments harmoniously,”read a Monday editorial praising the new policy in China’s state-run Global Times.

The policy is a “constructive” development, echoes Thailand’s technology minister Anudith Nakornthap, because it will block content that might be offensive to the Thai monarchy. Thailand already blocks more than a thousand Web sites containing anti-monarchy content.

But while governments are welcoming the new policy, many of its citizens feel differently.

Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident and prolific tweeter, wrote on Twitter of the policy: “If Twitter censors, I’ll stop tweeting”

Egyptian activist  Mahmoud Sale, fearing repercussions in his own country, wrote on Twitter: “Is it safe to say that Twitter is selling us out?”

Twitter defended its decision in a blog post, saying the policy was intended to allow expansion into countries with “different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression.”

Through a partnership with the first amendment-protecting Web site Chilling Effects, Twitter will also seek to make public all takedown requests by governments and others. Recent requests on the site show that the majority have come from movie and music companies reporting copyright violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S. — not from foreign authoritarian governments seeking to stifle free speech.

And Twitter’s new policy has some support from webizens. Internet technology Web site The Next Web has pointed out that Twitter's Help Center actually provides instructions on how to circumvent the new policy — by simply changing your country setting.

Social media chronicler Mashable argues that the move could be good for activists, as Twitter will no longer take down tweets globally — only in the tweeter’s native country.

And Social media curator Andy Carvin, too, thinks the policy could be a win for free speech:

@alphaleah @ichamza: this is the same situation that FB, YouTube, Yahoo, have all had to go through. Difference is Twitter was transparent.Fri Jan 27 14:18:50 via TweetDeck

More world news coverage:

European leaders focus on treaty to reduce debt

Pakistani court allows former envoy to leave

New museums in Libya reflects war experience

Read more headlines from around the world

By  |  04:19 PM ET, 01/30/2012

Tags:  World, Web censorship, China, Thailand

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company