A little known policy slips quietly under the radar in January 2012 as our friends at Twitter announce they will censor tweets, if a country’s government requests them to do so. A year later, Australia becomes the first modern democracy to identify, filter and ban free speech whilst not in a state of War.
In recent weeks, the censoring of tweets by Australian conservatives, or, indeed anyone who dares to either engage in political debate or offer opinion on the ruling Labor-Green alliance, has become so pervasive many have thought it was a bug with Twitter. You can read Twitter’s well hidden censorship policy here.
But now I can reveal that Twitter is actively censoring Australian tweets at the direct request of the government. The evidence is in Twitter’s own censorship policy. Released to the press on 26 January, 2012, the company says:
Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it up in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.
This was followed up, extensively, in on-line marketing specialist site MarketingLand (read the article) and tech guru site Gizmodo (read the article), but received very little main stream media play. Most probably because the limited imagination of journalists would not allow them to envision such a thing happening in industrialized democracies.
Australia, it turns out, has turned its back on the rest of the first world, deciding to embrace the culture of its banana republic regional neighbours, such as Fiji and Mobutu of the Congo.
Since I originally suffered suspension and the threat of being terminated by Twitter for asking a simple, open, non-abusive question of the Greens political party (read the story), literally dozens of others have come forward to tell of how they too have been suspended.
More common, now, is active “filtering” of content: where certain terms or certain tweets sent to certain people are banned from the Australian public.
And herein lies the definitive proof that the Australian Labor-Greens Government has requested this censorship. The content is only blocked from Australian sites, and can be seen when viewing Twitter from the US or anywhere else in the world. This is exactly in line with Twitter’s publicized policy.