If your Twitter timeline is looking a little quieter this morning, it could be as a result of a day-long protest against Twitter's recent announcement that they would be blocking certain tweets in different countries. As it turns out, the concept of free speech and expression differs from nation to nation, and Twitter would rather not facilitate any illegal activity.
But that's not really going to cut it for Twitter's more progressive users, who are careful to view all censorship as a very bad thing. And with good reason. Friday's New York Times article "Censoring of Tweets Sets Off #Outrage" did a good job of explaining what international users can expect from Twitter's new policy — and why it's scary as shit.
So if someone posts a message that insults the monarchy of Thailand, which is punishable by a jail term, it will be blocked and unavailable to Twitter users in that country, but still visible elsewhere. What is more, Twitter users in Thailand will be put on notice that something was removed: A gray box will show up in its place, with a clear note: "Tweet withheld," it will read. "This tweet from @username has been withheld in: Thailand."
Yeah, I can see how that might be cause for concern. On the one hand, there's transparency. On the other hand, there's a big gray box. The omnipresent Anonymous group organized today's protest, urging Twitter users not to tweet at all on January 28. I'm guessing the outcry wasn't quite what they'd hoped for, as a later tweet read, "And not a single fuck was given that day. Have fun with censorship twatters."
Anti-censorship is a noble cause, and Twitter should be held accountable for its decisions. At the same time, the idea of staying silent in protest of being censored doesn't gel with me. Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm a slave to my timeline. Either way, expect many of your friends to continue tweeting as usual. Not even Anonymous can eliminate all Instagrammed photos of Saturday morning French toast.
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