Twitter, a company synonymous with freedom of expression and activism, found itself at the receiving end of brickbats and harsh criticism. The reason being Twitter’s decision to selectively screen, monitor and censor tweets to respect local laws. The decision is in sharp contrast to Twitter’s global image of promoter of free thought and expression. Tweets world-wide demanded the immediate scrapping of the censorship and even threatened to boycott the hugely popular site.
Twitter tried hard to explain its stand to users the world over, albeit unconvincingly. Per the company, Twitter remains committed to free speech despite the intricacies of the new policy. Twitter insisted that even though a tweet was removed from one country in keeping with local laws, it could still be seen in other parts of the world. The spokesperson from Twitter assured users that after removing the tweet, the site would post the removal request from respective governments and companies. Twitter’s core philosophy of transparency remained unchanged, insisted the spokesman.
Some unforgiving tweets from across the world:
Egypt: This is very bad news. Is it safe to say that (hash) Twitter is selling us out?
China: If Twitter censors, I’ll stop tweeting.
Twitter has had to face, like many other companies promoting free and unrestricted dissemination of information, a very bitter truth. While freedom of speech comes naturally to the Americans, being guaranteed by the Constitution, it’s not so in other countries across the world. Hence the bitter resistance to such companies, and demands of censored content. Google had to face a lot of protest from the Chinese Government to downplay certain searches in periods of turmoil; to the extent that at one time it even contemplated abandoning the Chinese market. However market considerations forced it to compromise.
Fortunately, Twitter finds support to its position from certain quarters which are willing to accommodate Twitter. Per such companies like The Electronic Frontier Foundation, it is very obvious that companies have to abide by the rules of their land.
One of the major online protests against Twitter’s decision is scheduled for Saturday. Listed under TwitterBlackout, the protest calls for a total ban on the use of Twitter on that day.