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Twitter has ‘different ideas about freedom of expression’

IN A move calculated to appeal to investors, Twitter has announced it is now able to censor tweets by country of origin. Previously, if a tweet was deleted, it disappeared from worldwide search results. The new technology allows Twitter to selectively target content and remove it from search listings within a particular country.
Twitter said they had made the move in an attempt to accommodate countries with “different ideas about freedom of expression”. Quite.
Looking to expand its global business, Twitter is developing ways in which it can ensure that its information-sharing model doesn’t stand in the way of securing operating rights in countries whose governments exercise tight censorship laws.

Twitter is willing to accept limits on its operations, in return for access to an even wider user-base. Making a principled stand in defence of internet freedom is not part of this equation. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo explicitly made this point when he said that Wikipedia’s 24-hour blackout over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was “bad for business”.
The new tools, strongly criticised by Twitter users and Reporters without Borders as ‘opening the floodgates’ to internet censorship, has been justified as a ‘clarification’ of Twitter’s response to legal requirements.
Twitter feels that its brand image was soiled during the Arab Spring, when the media routinely reported the role that Twitter played in helping to organise protests. Rather than protest against repressive regimes, they chose to accept censorship rules.
For all the talk of how revolutionary social media can be, it is gradually integrating itself into the business model of ‘old’ media – compromising with the established power structures if its profit margins are threatened.

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