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Twitter announces ability to censor content by region

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:44PM EST

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Twitter announced recently that it now has the ability to, and will begin to, censor content on the social network by country. “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression,” the company said in a blog post Thursday. “Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there.” Twitter gave France and Germany as examples, two countries that ban pro-Nazi rhetoric from being posted on the Internet. Previously, Twitter would have had to delete specific content worldwide in order to prevent it from being visible, but it can now remove content on a country-by-country basis. Read on for more.

The company’s announcement has caused some to worry Twitter might cross a line that is already blurred. For example, the new policy could prohibit a country’s citizens from using Twitter as a means to band together and stage an uprising. No doubt much of 2011’s Arab Spring uprisings were fueled by social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and censorship could have killed the powerful voices that helped topple a number of regimes.

“We haven’t yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld,” Twitter said. “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.”