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