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Twitter to filter content by country

Twitter has given itself the ability to reactively withhold content from users in specific countries, based on whether it contravenes an individual nation’s freedom of expression limitations.

Previously, Twitter said it has had to remove certain types of content from its global audience, based on the fact it might not fit with freedom of expression ideas in every region. Now, it can do this on a country by country basis, “while keeping it available in the rest of the world.”

“As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content,” Twitter said on its blog.

Twitter has yet to make use of this ability, but said “if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld.”

After making the announcement, the micro-blogging site faced criticism from users who said the changes will have a negative impact on freedom of speech in many countries. In response, it clarified the policy will be reactive and only in response to what it believes to be a “valid and applicable legal request.”

What do you think about the new policy? Is it good or bad for freedom of speech?