China, Thailand Applaud Twitter Censorship

Dissidents fear losing free-speech tool
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2012 1:24 AM CST
This screen shot shows a portion of the Twitter blog post in which the company announced it has refined its technology so it can censor messages on a country-by-country basis.   (AP Photo/Twitter)

(Newser) – Twitter's controversial decision to allow censorship of tweets on a country-by-country basis has won praise from two of the countries with the busiest censors. In Thailand—ranked 153rd in the world for press freedom because of its strict laws against offending the monarchy—the country's information minister called the move a "welcome development," adding that the government has already received "good co-operation" from Google and Facebook. Thais can be jailed just for clicking "like" on a page deemed offensive to the monarchy, the Guardian notes.

In China, an editorial in a state-run newspaper hailed the move, declaring: "It is impossible to have boundless freedom, even on the Internet and even in countries that make freedom their main selling point." Twitter has long been blocked in China, but many users have found a way around the filters, using it as a free-speech alternative to home-grown micro-blogging sites. "If Twitter starts censoring, I’ll stop tweeting," tweeted prominent dissident Ai Weiwei. Many speculate that Twitter's embrace of censorship was a ploy to gain wider access to the Chinese market. (Read more censorship stories.)

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