After SOPA & PIPA, its Twitter now!

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After the SOPA and PIPA debacle, Twitter came out with their new censorship policies for their users. The new policy will withhold certain content from users based on their geographic location. The micro-blogging site put up a post titled “Tweets must still flow” on their official blog which stated “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.“ This takes us back to their original stand which vehemently supported the need for freedom of speech and expression.

Twitter will allow its users to set their current location and then determine which content needs to be blocked. Users and social media agencies made their displeasure known by threatening to deactivate their accounts. Censorship for an open platform like Twitter greatly curbs people’s ability to express their viewpoint.

However, it looks like this development was prompted by Twitter’s interest in entering China; a country that was yet too stringent for Twitter’s “open platform” structure. The site had been blocked in China since 2009 and will now stand a better chance in the country if it will be able to block all tweets that will be considered sensitive in China. Region specific blocking which was earlier implemented by YouTube and Hulu for its video content is now being adopted by Twitter for its 140-character Tweets.

What is left to be seen is whether Twitter will be able to maintain its brand image even after moving away from its core value of “free expression”.  The only consolation here is that Twitter is not attempting to delete the Tweet or the user entirely. As long as the Tweet exists on the website’s servers, users in some parts of the world will still be able to view it. The future of the internet remains a mystery. Will we need to watch our backs before we put up content or will we continue to enjoy the freedom to express ourselves?

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