Friday, January 27, 2012

Twitter achieves granular tweet blocking & marks blocked tweets

From the Twitter blog:
As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.

Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.

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. As part of that transparency, we’ve expanded our partnership with Chilling Effects to share this new page,, which makes it easier to find notices related to Twitter.

There’s more information in our Help pages, both on our Policy and about Your Account Settings.

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.
If a tweet is withheld, the update note to the blog says that users will see an alert box that says “Tweet withheld” or “@Username withheld” in place of the affected Tweet or account. Tweets cannot be censored as they are entered, says the blog. There are simply too many. This will apparently only come up if Twitter is notified by a host country that there is problematic content that must be removed, and so a tweet will come down after the fact.

This is a timely development since it about one year after Twitter began to be so important in the Arab Spring efforts in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, some of which made efforts to globally block all tweets.

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