On Thursday, Twitter announced that it would begin to selectively block tweets on a country by country basis. The decision prompted an immediate outcry from free speech advocates as well as a more measured response from scholars of social media, several of whom praised Twitter’s relative transparency while noting that it has no choice but to comply with the regulations of individual governments.
One of the most passionate defenders of Twitter’s new policy is Zeynep Tufekci, who described it as an “excellent policy which will be helpful to free-speech advocates”. Tufekci sees Twitter’s selective censorship as an improvement over the broad censorship practiced by other internet companies, in which content deemed offensive by one is deleted for all. Under the new guidelines, a tweet deemed inappropriate by the leaders of a particular country will only be censored within that country. To the rest of the world, it will be labeled as “blocked”, a development she describes as “excellent” because it renders state attempts to suppress speech transparent.