Yesterday, January 26th, Twitter announced they have implemented new policies allowing them to censor specific content at the request of a Governmental body.
From the Twitter Blog…
As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.
Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. 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. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.
One of our core values as a company is to defend and respect each user’s voice. We try to keep content up wherever and whenever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we can’t. The Tweets must continue to flow.
Yes, this is undoubtably censorship at the hands of the Governments who would choose to restrict free speech. People worry that this will remove the incredible benefits of social networking in revolution and protest situations. It should be noted that there is no automated system for removing content, Twitter only responds to requests from Governments.