Twitter announced their new company's policy Thursday which enraged users from all around the globe.
On their blog, Twitter announced that they will limit tweets in countries if they were deemed illegal. Because other countries have different ideas about the contours of freedom expression, to be able to hold offices in those countries, Twitter will now have the ability to limit content on a country by country basis but still keep the content available for the rest of the world.
This announcement enraged activists and freedom of speech advocates all around the world. Twitter was always seen as a free speech tool by people who were muzzled by their own governments. Egyptians even used Twitter to organize democracy protests and bring about the rise of the Arab Spring. However, with Twitter's new policies, their tweets for protests and criticism of their government could be censored.
An analysis in the New York Times said that this decision proses the question of whether is it more important for Twitter to remain a free-speech tool that can be used in defiance of governments, as happened during the Arab Spring protests, or a commercial venture that necessarily must obey the laws of the lands where it seeks to attract customers and eventually make money.
In the Arab world, the loudest protests against this are from Saudi Arabia Iyad el-Baghdadi, an author and Arab spring blogger based in Dubai said to Aljazeera. Baghdadi sees the vocal reaction among Arab users as an extension of the Arab spring, which some have said the service played a large role in.
Another perspective of this said that Twitter's new censorship policies are actually good for activists. Josh Catone, a writer for Mashable Social Media said that in the past, when something was taken down by Twitter, it was taken down internationally. Now, however, their policies are a case by case, country by country basis. If something is taken down by Twitter, the tweet will be greyed out in that country and noted that it was censored but it would still be viewable from the rest of the world. The transparency that comes this censorship should be utilized by activists.
There was a 24-hour boycott of twitter on Saturday of people against this new policy with the hashtags #TwitterBlackout and #TwitterCensored.