Yesterday, Twitter got the Internet buzzing about its new policy of giving itself “the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country -while keeping it available in the rest of the world.” Immediately, people made connections to Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alaweed’s recent $300 million investment and assumed the ‘specific country’ Twitter described was indeed Saudi Arabia. But as the director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation Jillian York describes in her post about this move, transparency is what’s important.
In the event that a company chooses to comply with government requests and censor content, there are a number of mitigating steps the company can take. The most important, of course, is transparency, something that Twitter has promised. Google is also transparent in its content removal (Facebook? Not so much). Twitter’s move to geolocate their censorship is also smart, given the alternative (censoring it worldwide, that is) – particularly since it appears a user can manually change his or her location.
I understand why people are angry, but this does not, in my view, represent a sea change in Twitter’s policies. Twitter has previously taken down content–for DMCA requests, at least–and will no doubt continue to face requests in the future. I believe that the company is doing its best in a tough situation…and I’ll be the first to raise hell if they screw up.
Read York’s full post here.
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