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Twitter can now censor tweets nationally, rather than globally

January 26, 2012 |  5:07 pm
What a withheld tweet will look like
What a withheld username will look likeThe wings of some Twitter users may be clipped a bit less going forward.

The San Francisco-based company said Thursday that it will now be able to censor tweets in specific countries that ask it to do so for legal reasons, rather than having to block tweets globally as before.

"As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression," the company said in a blog post. "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."

Up until this point, Twitter was only able to censor tweets worldwide, which means nobody would get to see a blocked tweet, the company said.

"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," Twitter said. "We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why."

When a tweet is blocked in a country, a message will appear stating that the tweet has been withheld in that nation alongside a link that explains the reason as to why the tweet was blocked.

"We haven't yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld," Twitter said. "As part of that transparency, we've expanded our partnership with Chilling Effects to share this new page, http://chillingeffects.org/twitter, which makes it easier to find notices related to Twitter."

Twitter says in its help center that the ability to block a tweet in a specific nation will allow it to "respect our user's expression, while also taking into consideration applicable local laws."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Images: Screen shots of what blocked content will look like. Credit: Twitter

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