19th Oct 2012
Twitter’s blocking of a neo-Nazi group’s account has caused worldwide concern among neo-Nazi groups, who might not be able to send out propaganda in a timely manner. The more global concern, however, is that Twitter might just have joined the ranks of Google, Facebook, etc., who sometimes censor material in the interest of peace, propriety, and preventing piracy.
The policy that allows Twitter to do account blocking of this sort is called “country-withheld content.” This is the first time it has been used. Posts from the banned group — Besseres Hannover — are still visible outside Germany; this is because it is illegal to be pro-Nazi in Germany, but not so in most other countries. Apparently, Twitter-based propaganda has the power to undermine Germany’s democratic fabric.
About the incident, Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray said in a now-famous tweet: “never want to withhold content, good to have tools to do it narrowly and transparently.”
This action is a first for Twitter. Apart from that, it would have been yet another case of free speech versus public interest. But there are a few interesting connections here: The Nazis relied quite a bit on censorship — of individuals and of the media — to go ahead with their business. When Twitter’s general counsel refers to “tools to do it transparently,” it reminds you of efficient operations of the sinister kind...
Of course, the bottomline remains that if you’re using a free service, you generally aren’t in a position to dictate terms — no pun intended.
The blue Twitter bird does remind me of the WWII pigeons, though.
TechTree Blog: Twitter Enters Free-Speech Debate
Sets precedent by blocking propagandists, Hitler-style.
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