For the first time in its six-year history, Twitter has censored a user account. What might be a grim milestone for free-speech advocates is more palatable when you consider the details: The banned account belongs to a German neo-Nazi outfit, and it will only be blocked in Germany, where local laws ban such groups.
Twitter’s general counsel tweeted the news, naturally, saying: “Never want to withhold content; good to have tools to do it narrowly & transparently.” His tweet included a copy of the request from German police. Twitter announced its ability to censor tweets on a country-by-country basis in January, pointing to pro-Nazi content in Germany and France as one possible example of what might be restricted.
Reaction to Twitter’s decision was mixed, with some wondering how far the company would go to appease local governments. The banned group, meanwhile, was none too pleased. Still visible to most of the world, the account tweeted in part, “Look at this regime: They gossip viciously about china and russia but noone about them!”
Which suggests the group could have been banned for bad syntax, too.