After last week’s Twitter announcement that the social networking site will begin allowing censorship of content on a country by country basis, Thailand has been the first to step up in support, with China jumping on board as well.
It should certainly come as no surprise that Thailand and China would be the first governments to endorse this new policy since both nations are notorious for their strict laws and heavy censorship. Under Twitter’s new policy, countries would be allowed to censor content coming from the site that violates country-specific laws. No tweets will actually be removed from the site, they will just be rendered invisible to the users in the country requesting the censorship, remaining visible to everyone else.
The controversial new policy angered Twitter users and free speech activists spawning backlash against the popular site which has been pivotal in spreading information during many major world events in the past few years, particularly during the uprisings in the Middle East. Thailand’s support could prompt other countries to step up and endorse the policy as well, which worries activist Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch Thailand. He said in a statement to the Guardian, “Twitter gives space to different opinions and views, and that is so important in a restricted societyÂ—it gives people a chance to speak up, but if this censorship is welcomed by Thailand, then other countries, with worse records for human rights and freedom of speech, will find that they have an ally.”
Some would argue that for a country like China, who has blocked the Twitter site entirely, perhaps the new policy will allow citizens some access, which is certainly better than none at all. Regardless, denying people access to free information is wrong, no matter what, and Twitter’s policy may as well be an endorsement of the harmful censorship practices of Thailand and other governments.