By Bad Seed
image source: BoingBoing
BY EVAN THOMAS
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
Twitter’s getting tweaked-- the microblog is implementing a more specific censorship policy that will block illegal content and messages on a country-by-country basis.
Twitter already globally censors certain content in response to copyright claims or obvious illegal activity, like links to pirated software. Twitter explains in a blog post that this new method will comply with national laws, and will allow what might be censored in one country to still be visible in others.
Twitter says it’s committed to disclosing its censorship activity. If content is blocked, Twitter will post a notice and link users to an explanation of what was blocked, and why.
That’s great, GigaOM says. But the fact remains:
“...no matter how Twitter phrases it, this news is going to concentrate attention on one thing: that a corporate entity, however well-meaning, controls which tweets are seen or not seen.”
It’s a double-edged sword, TechCrunch says. Twitter allows for unfiltered global discussion. But if Twitter wants to expand into other countries, it has to be ready to deal with local rules.
“This diplomatic casting of the restriction of speech, from a company that is built around the idea of free communication, is troubling. Unfortunately, it’s a logical step for a platform that wants to be accepted worldwide.”
Mark Gibbs at Forbes points out-- humans won’t be the ones be monitoring the worldwide Twitter feed.
“...given that over the course of 2011 the number of tweets per second (tps) ranged from a high of almost 9,000 tps down to just under 4,000 tps, any filtering has got to be computer-driven.”
Gibbs goes on to wonder how Twitter’s computers will make accurate calls on millions of straightforward and sarcastic tweets. Even with a microscopic failure rate, he says, the software will be incorrectly blocking -- or incorrectly permitting -- thousands of messages every day.
And the system definitely won’t be bulletproof. The Next Web explains-- there’s a workaround built right into Twitter. If content is blocked in your country...
“...all you have to do if you want to see a ‘blocked’ tweet is to change your Country setting after reading the warning.”
In the meantime, Twitter is working with legal watchdog site ChillingEffects.org to closely document its new censorship activity. Updates will appear at chillingeffects.org/twitter.