Content Marketing Blog

Twitter to begin country-specific content blocking

Popular social media site Twitter has attracted international attention by announcing changes to its policy and introducing the ability to block tweets country by country.

According to the new guidelines, when users located in a country where a tweet or account has been withheld try to view it, they will see an alert box stating "tweet withheld" or "@Username withheld" in place of the affected tweet or account.

"As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression," Twitter staff wrote in a blog post (January 26).

"Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there."

The move comes as Twitter attempts to comply with various government requests.

According to the site, no tweets have been blocked as yet – however this could change "in the face of a valid and applicable legal order".

Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society Zeynep Tufekci believes that Twitter's new policy is helpful for free-speech advocates.

"In my opinion, with this policy, Twitter is fighting to protect free speech on Twitter as best it possibly can," she wrote on her blog Technosociology (January 27).

"Twitter was the only company which first fought the US government to protect user information in the Wikileaks case and then informed the users when it lost the fight.

"In fact, Twitter's transparency is the only reason we even know of this; other companies, it appears, silently caved and complied."

The policy update comes as no surprise – Twitter users send one billion tweets every four days, so such a fast generation of content requires transparent but effective guidelines.

Posted by Elise Ferrari