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Posts Tagged ‘Censorship’

Chennai Police Using Twitter To Fight Crime (And Hopefully Not To Censor People)

Chennai, like most places in the world, has a crime problem.

What it also has, that most places do NOT (though it’s only a matter of time) is a police force tasked with monitoring social media sites, like Twitter, to help fight back.

But are they planning to use it purely to fight crime – or will they use it to crush political dissidents and other naysayers as well?

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Twitter Cooperates With Vladimir Putin To Block Access To Blacklisted Content In Russia

On the heels of the announcement that Twitter archives would now be available in Russian comes an announcement from Moscow that Twitter has cooperated with Czar Vladimir Putin to block access to blacklisted content in his country.

According to The Moscow Times, Twitter has “actively been engaged in cooperation” since early March with Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision in Telecommunications, Information Technology and Mass Communications.

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Are Twitter Users Targeting Conservatives?

We all know politics can be nasty business, but some folks are claiming their opponents have taken things to a whole new low: restricting freedom of speech.

And they claim they’re doing this on Twitter.
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Biz Stone Clarifies Twitter’s Stance On Censorship And China

This guest post comes to us from tech blogger Will M. You can follow Will at @BetterPath.

“They should have asked me write that,” Biz Stone says about a blog post on that set off a global controversy. Twitter’s new technology is “a huge win for free speech” Biz insists, and regrets that people are only hearing “Twitter is censoring now” in the uproar around the post.
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China Is Second Country To Applaud Twitter’s New Stance On Censorship

Twitter announced last week that it would start withholding tweets on a country-by-country basis, at the request of specific governments. And although the company has yet to act on this new policy, two governments have already come out in favor of it. And neither of these governments are known for their freedom of speech.
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Thailand Is First Government To Welcome Twitter’s New Censorship Policy

Thailand applauded Twitter’s new stance on censorship, which will give governments the right to ask the network to remove certain tweets.
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Did The Japanese Government Censor Twitter During Nuclear Plant Meltdown?

The Japanese government is denying that an online project to monitor “incorrect and inappropriate” information on Twitter and publish “correct” information is an attempt at online censorship.
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Wikileaks Isn’t A Trending Topic on Twitter: Censorship, Miscalculation, or Just Not Worthy?

Last night, questions erupted in the blogosphere about why #Wikileaks hasn’t yet made it to Twitter’s Worldwide Trends. Some speculated censorship on Twitter’s part, citing similar government intervention as is suspected for Amazon and PayPal’s distancing from Wikileaks. An employee came on record as saying that it was just a result of the algorithm doing its work, and that #Wikileaks wasn’t as popular on Twitter as you’d think. We’ve got the story so far, and we’ll keep you updated as it develops.
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POLL: Does Twitter Need A Ratings System For Avatars?

If you’re a blogger, or regularly comment on blogs, you’ve likely heard of Gravatar, a service that provides globally recognised avatars that follow you from site to site, appearing whenever you make a comment.

Gravatar also implements a movie-style ratings feature for avatars, ranging from G (suitable for all) to X (very mature content) which allows blog owners to control what kind of images appear on their site.

As you’re probably well aware, Twitter has a bit of a problem with spammers. And many of these individuals, real or robotic, like to use pictures of scantily-clad women to capture the attention of the easily-pleased.

Here are just a few I found amongst my followers:

POLL: Does Twitter Need A Ratings System For Avatars?

The thing is, it’s not always spammers. Often it’s real people with large numbers of followers, and they’re using these provocative images for the exact same reasons. And it’s not just ‘women’, either – there are plenty of men who think it’s big and clever to upload a headless picture of ‘their’ bare chest.

At this point, I’d like to state that I am not a prude. (In fact, far from it.) But while it is true that Twitter is comfortably the most ‘professional’ social network, with an average age amongst all users in the mid-to-high 30s, I’m not entirely comfortable with an ‘anything goes’ approach to profile images. I also don’t want Twitter to turn into MySpace or Bebo, where it’s entirely the norm to see individuals flaunting themselves in their birthday suits.

And it’s not just about sex – as it stands, anything can be placed within an avatar, and there’s nothing specific in Twitter’s TOS that addresses this. Twitter is an open, public network, and while you can of course unfollow somebody who causes offense, that isn’t the end of the matter.

The issue of censorship is always a difficult one to balance. On one side, nobody likes the idea that a corporation is enforcing a ‘nanny state’ approach to political correctness (Facebook’s ongoing mess regarding the removal of breastfeeding photos is a notable example) but equally ratings systems in movies and videogames exist for a reason. Many countries also have a watershed (or safe harbour) for television programming, too.

One way that censorship works extremely well is if it is self-moderated. By adopting a Gravatar-style rating system to any avatars uploaded to the network, Twitter could avoid a Facebook-style PR disaster while affording those with stricter sensibilities towards what is (and what is not) acceptable on a social network greater control over what they can (and cannot) see.

Here’s how it might work:

  1. When you upload an avatar, you tag it with a rating. Using Gravatar’s system, this would be G for General, PG for audiences 13 and above, R for audiences 17 and above, and X for very mature content.
  2. Users would select which level of avatar they were prepared to see in their settings.
  3. Avatars that clearly breached their rating level could be marked as inappropriate. This would work similar to spam, where Twitter would need to step in if a person received enough complaints.

Now, the risk here of course is that what is a masterwork of art to one person is sexually explicit filth to another. However, because a Gravatar-style control system would allow us all to set the level of image we were prepared to see, those who are very easily offended could set their level to G, and where an avatar exceeded this it would be replaced by Twitter’s default.

Moreover, if Twitter adopted such a policy, they would need to look at other areas, too, such as background designs on profiles.

I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this. As said, the idea of censorship often raises a red flag in and of itself, and many are opposed to such regulation on the internet. This is why I think self-moderation is usually the best way forward.

Please take a moment to vote in the poll below, and then share your thoughts in the comments area.