It started with a blogpost yesterday by Twitter on its blog about its "ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world":
One year ago, we posted "The Tweets Must Flow," in which we said,
“The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact … almost every country in the world agrees that freedom of expression is a human right. Many countries also agree that freedom of expression carries with it responsibilities and has limits.”
As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.
Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.
We haven’t yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld. As part of that transparency, we’ve expanded our partnership with Chilling Effects to share this new page, http://chillingeffects.org/twitter, which makes it easier to find notices related to Twitter.
There’s more information in our Help pages, both on our Policy and about Your Account Settings.
One of our core values as a company is to defend and respect each user’s voice. We try to keep content up wherever and whenever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we can't. The Tweets must continue to flow.
Update: Alex Macgillivray, the general counsel of Twitter, responds:
Three quick things:
#1: I can confirm that this has nothing to do with any investor (primary or secondary).
#2: This is not a change in philosophy. #jan25
#3: you'll see notices about withheld content at: http://www.chillingeffects.org... so you'll get to figure out whether we've "caved" or not with data. This change gives us the ability to keep content up even if we have to withhold it somewhere.
The nextweb explains how you could circumvent the new Twitter restrictions:
Indeed, Twitter’s Help Center itself gives a good clue on how to bypass them very easily.