On January 26, 2012, Twitter announced that it now has the ability to censor content on a country-by-country basis. That’s quite a change from the open and completely unfiltered history of the site.
But what does this change mean to the company as a whole? To the users? How will it affect us?
Why Did Twitter Take This Sudden And Drastic Step?
Speculating that the move pointed to a subsequent Twitter presence in China, PandoDaily wrote, “I’m sure Mao would be pleased.” Censorship in China has been a long and hotly debated topic, though it looks like Twitter is being proactive to give in to the countries demands.
The Guardian, in the meantime, queried if the new system could be used in the U.K. to erase tweets revealing information concealed by local laws regarding certain celebrities. What affect that could have on the gossip rags and celebrity newshounds across the pond can only be imagined.
Fearing widespread and automated use of the new technology, MarketingLand spoke with Twitter employees who state that censorship will transpire on a case by case basis and that no automatic online filters will be created.
What About Twitter Privacy ?
But what would happen if they were? What would be censored? Private information like names and addresses? Celebrities’ and politician’s privacy issues? Profanity and sexual propositions? If the censorship occurred, it would erase Twitter as we know it. But is it fair to have it censor-free in one country and marked through in another? How will that work? Will some countries be cut off from the rest, language barriers aside? Or will users merely make up their own language, shorthand of sorts, that would be difficult for the censors to uncover? Only time will tell.
Wall Street Journal Surmises About Twitter
The Wall Street Journal surmises that the censorship option will safeguard any future international expansion efforts where the company would have to observe local law or hazard its employees facing prosecution. This is a polite way of referring to China and other countries whose idea of internet freedom does not extend as far as America’s does. You can sympathize with Twitter wanting to expand into those countries, but at what expense?