Twitter’s censorship policy stirs up a storm
Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 12:02
Twitter's medium for lightning-quick self-expression has powered political protests throughout the world from the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia and Syria.
Nowhere was it a more important tactical tool than in the uprising that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
"Twitter had a massive effect on the course of the revolution before, during and after," said Ahmad Saied, an Egyptian journalist and a blogger.
Its ambitions to grow from 100 million active users to more than 1 billion may ultimately bring Twitter into conflict with its ideals.
With its expansion into more countries will come increased pressure to censor tweets. If it violates the law in a country where it has employees, those employees risk arrest and prosecution. That includes democracies such as France and Germany, which have strict prohibitions on Nazi propaganda.
"They've said their intention is to remain supportive of free speech and to continue to enable people to use Twitter as a tool for organizing and communication," said Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the New America foundation who follows freedom of expression online. "But we shouldn't take them at their aword. We should look at what they do and hold them to their word."
(Staff writers David Sarno in Los Angeles and Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan in Cairo contributed to this report.)
(c)2012 the Los Angeles Times