Dammit. Enjoying my train ride this morning, alternating between Wired and my tweetstream, when I became aware of the latest Twitter change (thanks Wessel). In order to aid future global growth, Twitter is introducing the ability to block certain content on a country by country basis. On the official blog, Twitter uses the example of countries such as France and Germany blocking pro-nazi content to explain this position.
I’ve long been opposed to censorship, especially in Social Media. I’m an ardent supporter of free speech, my right to express my views and indeed your right to be offended and argue your position. Mark Twain nailed it in my opinion:
As with all things Internet, there are hacks available. Any censored content will be flagged to the user – and you’re able to go tell Twitter you’re in another country (it simply picks up your country via IP identification), so you’ll still be able to get at that content (thanks TNW). Only problem there is that Twitter is accessed more and more via mobile – when I’m guessing that hack is substantially more difficult.
I’m moved to write this for a number of reasons. First off, as you can no doubt tell, it’s a subject I feel strongly about.
Secondly, and I think it’s a bad move for Twitter. I understand why they feel it’s necessary in order to continue expansion and to protect from legal threats in future, but this just feels wrong. It’s up there with Google’s search results giving you a personal version of the internet, as opposed to the actual best results. Transparency is losing.
Finally, Twitter was one of the key empowerment platforms of the Arab Spring. Social Media didn’t cause that revolution – but there’s a strong case to say it supported.
This move suggests Twitter wants to win by supporting government wishes than by supporting the requirements of users.
A sad day indeed.