Twitter to Block Christian Tweets for Muslim Nations

by on December 4th, 2010
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COMMENTARY | The freedom of speech is exercised one tweet at a time on Twitter. The powerful social medium is truly the power of the people. Twitter is a virtual town square where like-minded people can get together and pass along information one 140 character long tweet at a time.

Sometimes it is hard to fit a complete sentence on a tweet, but adding links to important news stories and blogs into a tweet can expand the information exchanged on Twitter exponentially. Religion, culture, gossip, politics and social issues are discussed by millions of users around the world on Twitter. People under repressive governments sometimes have access to social networks that enable them to get information that they would otherwise never be allowed to see. Well, that was the case before Twitter decided it would begin censoring tweets for selective counties.

Twitter has implemented a new system that can delete a tweet that contains information that certain governments do not want their citizens to see. The tweet will not be deleted completely from a user’s timeline, but the tweet will not be allowed in countries where the tweet violates local laws.

For instance, Twitter will block Christian tweets to users in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries where spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ is illegal. Coincidentally, guess who just bought 3.6 percent of Twitter for $400 million in December. None other than Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Not only would Saudi Arabia like to block Christian tweets, but it is safe to say it is in Prince Talal’s best interests to quiet any future Arab uprisings that might affect the Middle East. Experts say the Arab Spring that overthrew the governments of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya last year were coordinated on Twitter.

The free world is outraged by this development by Twitter. Reporters Without Borders, a pro-liberty and free speech organization, sent a letter to Twitter Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey expressing its concerns with this latest development. The letter said, “By finally choosing to align itself with the censors, Twitter is depriving cyber dissidents in repressive countries of a crucial tool for information and organization”. The letter went on to say “Twitter’s position that freedom of expression is interpreted differently from country to country is unacceptable.”

Twitter wants to expand its reaches into the censored governments of the world. China is the market that Twitter would like to fully tap. If they do, Twitter could increase its active users from 100 million to well over 1 billion.

For Twitter to continue its information expansion to the repressed areas of the world, they will need to play ball with leaders of governments that oppose free speech. A Twitter spokesman said, “This launch is about us keeping content up whenever we can and to be extremely transparent with the world when we don’t”. Twitter definitely has to walk a tight rope to keep all of the company’s interests happy.

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