Ed Driscoll

Twitter to Restrict User Content in Some Countries

No word yet how that will impact schlong pix uploaded by Congressional Democrats, but Reuters reports today:

Twitter gave as examples of restrictions it might cooperate with “certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.”

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the blog.

“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,” the Twitter blog said.

Twitter’s decision to begin censoring content represents a significant departure from its policy just one year ago, when anti-government protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries coordinated mass demonstrations through on the social network and, in the process, thrust Twitter’s disruptive potential into the global spotlight.

As the revolutions brewed last January, Twitter signaled that it would take a hands-off approach to censoring content in a blog post entitled “The Tweets Must Flow.”

“We do not remove Tweets on the basis of their content,” the blog post read. “Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users’ right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed.”

And last year, Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray declared that the company was “from the free speech wing of the free speech party.”

In the interest of transparency, Twitter said Thursday, it has built a mechanism to inform users in the event that a Tweet is being blocked.

I’m sure Twitter’s nascent attempt at censorship has nothing at all to do with this Wall Street Journal report from late December:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has made a $300 million investment in Twitter Inc., expanding his media empire into social-media sites and giving the Saudi billionaire a stake in an online forum that was widely used by activists in this year’s Arab uprisings.

The investment was made several months ago when existing Twitter shareholders sold $400 million of shares, according to people familiar with the matter. At the time, Twitter also raised $400 million from a direct investment led by Russia-based DST Global, known for its investments in social media companies including Facebook Inc. The identities of other investors weren’t disclosed.

In an emailed statement from Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding Co., Prince Alwaleed stressed both the investment potential and growing clout of the short-messaging social network in announcing the purchase, which he said was part of a drive “to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact.”

San Francisco-based Twitter, whose investors include several venture-capital firms, was valued by analysts in October at about $8.4 billion, suggesting that Prince Alwaleed’s stake is equivalent to 3.6% of the company.

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Prince Alwaleed has focused his investments on banks, hotels and media companies, building sizable stakes in companies such as Citigroup Inc., News Corp., Apple Inc. and Time Warner Inc. News Corp. owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. He is also developing a new Arabic-language satellite-news channel with Bloomberg LP.

Is a $300 million investment enough to get your own kill switch?