China State-Run Newspaper Praises Twitter’s New Censorship Policy
Twitter's announcement last week that it could begin censoring tweets on a country-by-country basis drew criticism from many free-speech activists, including Reporters Without Borders, a global non-profit group that advocates for journalists.
Other observers were less concerned, attributing Twitter's move to the realities of operating in a global environment with differing legal systems and social norms. On Monday, Twitter's new policy received praise from one source the company might wish had practiced a little self-censorship itself: a Chinese state-run newspaper called the Global Times.
It is impossible to have boundless freedom, even on the Internet and even in countries that make freedom their main selling point," read an editorial on the English-language website of the Global Times. The announcement of Twitter might have shown that it has already realized the fact and made a choice between being an idealistic political tool as many hope and following pragmatic commercial rules as a company."
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the editorial, which was entitled, Twitter critics confuse politics with business decision." The Global Times is a tabloid published by Chian's Communist Party, which also publishes the People's Daily, considered to be the official state organ.
Prior to Twitter's announcement, the company had the power to delete tweets, of course, but not the ability to do so on a country-by-country basis. What's new, the company said in a blog post, is the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific countrywhile keeping it available in the rest of the world." As part of the new policy, Twitter is setting up a new transparency regime whereby 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." The company said it would keep a tally of such withheld content on the Chilling Effects website.
Twitter's announcement drew a range of reactions from free-speech advocates. Reporters Without Borders wrote a letter to Twitter Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey expressing deep concern" over the move and urging him to reverse the policy. By finally choosing to align itself with the censors, Twitter is depriving cyberdissidents in repressive countries of a crucial tool for information and organization," the group wrote. Twitter's position that freedom of expression is interpreted differently from country to country is inacceptable. This fundamental principle is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."