Censor twits in bikinis and you silence freedom fighters
This week Twitter announced a shift toward censorship. The social media outlet, which was instrumental in the recent uprisings in the Middle East and for providing rare opportunities for open communication in parts of Asia and South America, will now consider blocking replies and banning users who don’t provide the site with sufficient personal information such as a picture, bio and even followers.
In a statement released by Twitter yesterday the company explained its decision was based on differing perspectives globally, ‘as we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression’.
However, this caused public uproar particularly by those from countries where governments don’t acknowledge rights to freedom of speech.
Aljazeera reported that Arabic-language content was the fastest-growing segment on Twitter and users in the Arab world began to react to the censorship immediately.
In fact the hash tag #TwitterBlackout pushes for a boycott of Twitter this Saturday, with the hash tag #TwitterCensored stream in Saudi Arabia being deemed the closest thing to a Saudi free speech demonstration by Middle Eastern Journalists.
Meanwhile in China, a government report released last week indicated that over half of the country’s 500 million internet users are on a social network, despite many outlets including Twitter being blocked, freedom of speech activists like Ai Weiwei reportedly tweeted in response to the news: “If Twitter censors, I’ll stop tweeting.”
Needless to say, issues regarding freedom of speech and government intervention in social media are not as prevalent in Australia. Twitter has a lot to answer for regarding how far this will go here. In the meantime, Australians will continue to take to Twitter to ridicule the Federal Government as in the instance where federal ministers used the inane hashtag “cash for you” to promote the School Kids Bonus.
We will also continue to turn the spotlight on attention seeking celebrity sport stars like Stephanie Rice who sees it as perfectly appropriate to tweet a picture of herself in a bikini, or Carlton’s Brock McLean the latest AFL player who tweeted a derogatory comment about a Twitter follower’s mum.
Let’s not forget Australia’s latest reality show star Lara Bingle who is not best known for her intellectual comments who posted a picture of two impoverished Indigenous children smoking with the text “Poverty-stricken but still cool as f—-”.
In the midst of recent debates of media ownership, the emergence of Twitter censorship illuminates how fortunate Australians are with opinions and views being voiced without restriction. Although we’d be tempted to ask to Twitter to censor the tweets of some of our Australian ‘celebrities,’ it’s comforting to know that at the cost of providing a legitimate bio we can continue to be heard even as we tweet in response to frivolous matters.
Sadly, for others living abroad providing a legitimate bio may result in political persecution, especially when views tweeted are not reflective of a certain government’s agendas. Perhaps it’s up to us to take to Twitter to call for equality worldwide? Or perhaps we find it more fun to continue tweeting about how uneducated Lara Bingle is?
It’s your call… I mean tweet.
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