Has Twitter gone to the dark side with new censorship?

Twitter is going into the censorship business, and followers don’t like it.

The hugely popular social network, which unwittingly has helped fuel pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and elsewhere by allowing pretty much unfettered access to tweets, has decided to take down tweets that may break the law in one country but allow that same tweet to be seen in other countries. Previously, when a tweet came down it vanished from screens throughout the world.

Twitter says it’ll post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is taken down and it’ll also post on the website chillingeffects.org censorship notices that it gets from governments, companies and individuals.

Twitter defends the move as “a good thing for freedom of expression, transparency and accountability,” according to an Associated Press report.

The freedom-of-the-press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, however, says Twitter will help suppress voices of dissent.

From the AP:

“By finally choosing to align itself with the censors, Twitter is depriving cyberdissidents in repressive countries of a crucial tool for information and organization…Twitter’s position that freedom of expression is interpreted differently from country to country is unacceptable.”

Has Twitter gone to the dark side? Would you want your tweet removed just because Washington doesn’t particularly like it?

28 comments Add your comment

C. M. Thornton, III

January 28th, 2012
10:22 am

First? What is a Twitter?

Thomas Pain

January 28th, 2012
10:23 am

This is news?

I’m not saying Twitter has some value, but this makes the news and people are getting up in arms. Yet our own government is passing laws designed to remove our constitutional rights (and some of the God given ones!) on a daily basis, and they don’t even make the news. It’s ok to have a flunkie at the TSA look at or take pictures of your daughter’s body, but OMG we can’t have Twitter censoring our mostly mindless drivel!


January 28th, 2012
10:23 am

This new stance certainly taints my view of Twitter. I love Twitter and have followed some of the recent revolutions around the globe from it. I really don’t understand why they would align themselves with tyrants and dictators who want to restrict open access to news and opinions. This certainly opens the door for a new platform to quickly take shape that doesn’t suppress open dialogue.


January 28th, 2012
10:41 am

This comment has been censored b/c it contained views that someone disagrees with.


January 28th, 2012
10:53 am

@Thomas Pain

I think you need to have some common sense about the issue, pun intended (unless your name is actually Thomas Paine). It is one in the same. Whether they are “patting your daughter down” at the airport or limiting your right to free speach over the internet it’s all diminishing your rights to freedom. You should be equally upset with all limitations of your rights as a free person, not just because you feel this is a mindless tool for mindless people.


January 28th, 2012
11:04 am

T-Pain! I love it!


January 28th, 2012
11:05 am

T-Pain – you are on point regarding how our rights are being eliminated everyday and if it doesn’t make the news the average person doesn’t know about it.

Thomas Pain

January 28th, 2012
11:08 am

Gator, they’re not the same thing. Twitter is censoring based on local laws. They aren’t censoring anything in the USA. They aren’t doing anything unconstitutional.

The pun was funny!


January 28th, 2012
11:08 am

Obviously Twitter (which means you twit) is ran by the government. Since everything else is illegal or not politically correct, why not now work on censoring the WEB. Sounds like a modern day version if Germany circa 1930’s.


January 28th, 2012
11:49 am

Thank your local Republican Party for the thugs of the TSA and the “Patriot Act.” Can’t blame that on on the socialist, foreign, muslim with the “fat ugly wife” President Obama. Wow THAT hurts don’t it?

[...] has introduced new technology so it can censor messages, or tweets, on a country-by-country …Has Twitter gone to the dark side with new censorship?Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]


January 28th, 2012
12:13 pm

Fred, any party would have done the same thing with the events of that time. Democrats have done nothing to ease those rules.

Mlk, go back to school. Your grammar is horrid.

Twitter is still the most open, accessible news source in the world. They can’t censor everything if they wanted to.


January 28th, 2012
12:16 pm


I assume that is Chewbaca you refer to?


January 28th, 2012
12:28 pm


I get what you’re saying about it not applying to us. But per your statement this country is moving towards limiting personal freedoms. While it’s a stretch to say the government will start limiting your rights to free speech soon, so was the thought that the government could monitor your finances through the Patriot Act or force you to buy health insurance 20 years ago. One day this decision by twitter could be used to censor U.S. citizens.


January 28th, 2012
12:32 pm

If you read the policy, then you will see that what Twitter is doing is actually mostly what it has been doing all along – just tweaked a bit. Here is a great article that explains the situation:


January 28th, 2012
12:45 pm

@Diego: Chewbaca? That’s a good one. I can see the resemblance with those two vampire teeth. Although personally I think she looks amazingly like Sigourney Weaver. They could be sisters separated by birth.

@American: Really? The difference is that the dems don’t pretend to be for personal freedom and small Gov’t while the pubs preach that lie over and over and you sheep eat it up and go baaaaaaaaa all the way to the polls voting for your 1 percenters to fill their pockets with your money.

[...] SHUTTING DOWN MAY 1stWeekly World News (satire)Has Twitter gone to the dark side with new censorship?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Storyful -DAWN.com -Hindustan Timesall 1,425 news [...]


January 28th, 2012
1:17 pm

Bring back MySpace!!! Wait… maybe not.


January 28th, 2012
1:42 pm

kind of like how the media is keeping details of the Obama eligibility hearing under wraps, except for the pro-Obama spin.



January 28th, 2012
3:24 pm

Oh, Bea – that’s just one more example of a frivolous lawsuit clogging up our justice system. The media isn’t covering it because it has no merit.


January 28th, 2012
3:50 pm

“…has decided to take down tweets that may break the law in one country but allow that same tweet to be seen in other countries.”

Good luck making that work! They’d need a 24/7 staff of legal experts familiar with the laws of every nation on planet Earth to screen every message. If my tweet viloates the laws of Botswana and nowhere else, they’re gonna catch that? Sure.

[...] (blog)Twitter Gives Itself Added Flexibility in Censoring MessagesBusinessWeekAljazeera.com -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -DAWN.comall 1,471 news [...]

hy hystt

January 28th, 2012
8:54 pm

Ah, lieberals. Free speech for me but not for thee.


January 29th, 2012
12:30 am

Boycott Twitter. We don’t need censorship of the internet. What we need is freedom of information.


January 29th, 2012
6:09 pm

What’s the point if it’s censored? I need a beer, so I can watch the Pro-Bowl!! YES, it’s Sunday in the South and I’m drinking!!


January 29th, 2012
7:04 pm

What department of the government chooses what’s illegal? And its really hard for me to fathom exactly what words (up to 140) in the English language are illegal. I’m more afraid of the government silencing whistle blowers and those trying to point out government wrongdoing than anything someone is going to illegally Tweet on Twitter. Very much against this as I would imagine the founding fathers would be.

[...] Twitter To Start Censoring Tweets [...]

Frank Furter

January 31st, 2012
2:50 pm