Word came down yesterday that Twitter will begin giving the governments of some countries the ability to request to have messages censored over their service. This is a big change from Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray’s previous statement from last year that the company was “from the free speech wing of the free speech party.”
Twitter claims they have not yet censored anyone under this new policy and will tell the public when they do, possibly with greater cooperation with the website Chilling Effects.
One has to wonder if the Arab Spring could have happened the way it did under this new policy. Since censored tweets will still be available for people outside of the country doing the censoring, does that simply make those banned tweets more powerful? If everyone else in the world can see what is being blocked, will it have the opposite of the intended effect and bring greater worldwide attention to possible injustices?
For a reasonable, smart analysis of the new Twitter policy, check out this great post by Paul Smalera.