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SOPA is Dead but Twitter Censors

SOPA might be dead but it seems that our favorite social networking known for not censoring is changing its policy. Twitter will now be censoring content in certain countries.

Twitter has always had the ability to remove content, which they did. People could report spam or abuse and then the content would be deleted or potentially the account owner would have their account shut down, depending on the severity of the offense. But generally they stayed out of the business of what people were tweeting.

Last year Twitter wrote a blog post called “The Tweets Must Flow” about freedom of expression on the network:

“The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact…Almost every country in the world agrees that freedom of expression is a human right. Many countries also agree that freedom of expression carries with it responsibilities and has limits.”

However Twitter has announced that the network will becoming available in Arabic. Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu. All languages known to come from countries with strict government restrictions for the media and concerning freedom of expression. Though there is some speculation that this new censoring ability is being driven from a recent investment of $300 million from Saudi Arabia.

Twitter says it will be “withholding tweets” according to the TOS and the country’s laws. Sounds fine and good, but that does pretty much put a stop to any civilian uprising, like Egypt, being coordinated on the social network. Likely planning an uprising to overturn a government via Twitter would count as a violation of the country’s laws. But that is the result of restricting freedom of expression.

Will this have a larger global impact on the network? Yes, possibly.