a Fatal Mistake?
ReCently, t Witter has reig- nited debate over Internet censorship by making a German neo-Nazi account unavailable to users in Germany at the request of German authorities. 2 This followed Twitter’s adoption
of a “country withheld content” policy
in January 2012, which allows Twitter to block content in certain countries upon government request.a Since
adopting the policy, Twitter has reportedly received several government
requests to make sites unavailable in
accordance with this policy, but for undisclosed reasons, Twitter has failed to
act on any of the requests.
In Germany, the use of Nazi symbols is strictly forbidden by law, as is
membership in a neo-Nazi organization. The clear illegality of the material in Germany is perhaps what made
Twitter’s decision in this case so easy
to make. All of the material is still available outside of Germany, however, and
users have claimed it is relatively easy
to bypass the blockage (using proxy
servers, VPNs, and other methods).
Meanwhile, China’s government
has recently been criticized for its decision to block access to a New York
Times article1 that investigated assets
accumulated by its prime minister,
Wen Jiabao. China’s censors were
nothing if not thorough, even deleting all social media posts that made
a Twitter’s Terms of Service: https://support.
reference to the issue and a Sina We-
ibo (a microblogging platform simi-
lar to Twitter) account that promoted
the Chinese language version of the
New York Times’ arts and culture sec-
tion. Despite this attention to detail,
however, many thousands of users in
China continued to discuss the issue
by making veiled references to it, and
by using deliberate misspellings and
other covert tactics.