Twitter Censors Tweets In Some Countries

February 27, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. censorship (n.) – the act of preventing material or information from being fully seen, read or heard; the removal of offensive material
Example:  In strict countries, news programs cannot report information against the government because of media censorship laws. 

2. applaud (v.) – to give praise or express approval
Example: The board members applauded the excellent project proposal.

3. idealistic (adj.) – having a belief in what is ideal or perfect
Example: Critics believe that a quick recovery of the economy within a short period of time is too idealistic.

4. cooperate (v.) – to be willing to help or work with someone
Example: The witnesses cooperated with the police by describing the criminal in detail.

5. stifle (v.) – to prevent or to restrain by force
Example: He stifled his laugh to avoid disturbing the ceremony.

Read the text below.

Short-messaging service giant Twitter recently announced that it will allow the censorship of messages within specific countries. While the policy change has angered those who believe in free speech, countries that promote censorship applaud the decision.

Twitter plans to further expand internationally and reach a higher number of users, and countries may be more welcoming if Twitter’s service allows messages to be censored. The new policy will make sure Twitter messages or “tweets” are seen by as many people as possible, while still following local laws in each country. 

Through the new Twitter censorship option, a tweet can be blocked in countries where the message is unlawful. Twitter then posts a censorship notice for the removed tweet. Other than that, the original tweet can still be seen elsewhere in the world.

One country that praises Twitter’s new feature is China, whose strict rule on Internet censorship has been called the “Great Firewall of China” by Internet freedom fighters. According to a newspaper run by the Chinese government, unlimited freedom is too idealistic, even for the Internet. The newspaper adds that Twitter has to put primary focus on being a business and not on being a tool that gives everyone complete freedom of expression.

Another supporter of the new policy is Thailand's technology minister Anudith Nakornthap, who believes that this is a good development. He says that by cooperating with different governments, Twitter will not violate the basic rights of those using social media.

For years, Twitter has proven to be a powerful tool that lets people around the world freely express ideas and organize mass movements. However, global activists fear that Twitter’s new policy on censorship might stifle people’s freedom of speech, and some are making plans to boycott Twitter.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A 

      Why do you think Twitter (or other social media sites) is popular?
      Do you agree with Twitter’s decision to follow countries’ censorship laws in order to expand business? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

      What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of censorship from social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook?
      Do you believe people should have unlimited freedom of expression? Why or why not?


February 27, 2012