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Inside Story
The impact of Twitter's censorship plan
As Twitter introduces a new procedure for self-censorship, is this the end of freedom of expression on the internet?
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2012 13:59

The microblogging site Twitter says it has introduced new technology so it can censor messages, or tweets, on a country-by-country basis.

Any tweet that breaks a law in one country, can be taken down there by the company, but it can still be seen elsewhere.

"It's part of Twitter growing up. It is an inevitable part of Twitter becoming  more accountable in different jurisdictions and not just in the USA."

- Danvers Baillieu, Technology and media adviser

Twitter views the censorship tool as a way to ensure tweets remain available to as many people as possible. Previously, when Twitter blocked a message, it would remove that tweet entirely, and could not be seen anywhere in the world.
 
The company says its new policy will enable it to expand globally and abide by certain countries' internet laws.
 
Twitter will post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is removed. It also plans to share the removal requests it receives from governments, companies and individuals at a specific website.

But many critics say that the latest censorship move by Twitter will have serious implications on the company's commitment to the freedom of speech. They accuse the company of just working to broaden its users to make more money.

But what does the new tool really mean for Twitter and its users? And is the self-censorship the beginning of the end to freedom of expression on the internet?

Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, is joined by: Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger and political activist; Danvers Baillieu, a co-founder of Bootlaw, a service providing legal advice to technology, internet and digital professionals, and he is also a senior associate specialising in representing technology companies at international law firm Pinsent Masons; and Tom Royal, a deputy editor for the Computer Active Magazine.

"I know that some of the people working for Twitter were activists, and they know that activists have to break laws, even in England and the United States. If we look at countries like Egypt, like Syria, like Yemen, of course all our tweets are breaking the law. And that's what activists do, they break the law because they want to make changes to these unjust laws. They have the right to do that, and if you prevent them from this right then you are attacking human rights itself."

Wael Abbas, Egyptian blogger

Source:
Al Jazeera
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