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Censorship of Twitter

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Title: Censorship of Twitter  
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Subject: Internet censorship, Twitter controversies, Websites blocked in Belgium, SimplyTweet, Gnip
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Censorship of Twitter

Censorship of Twitter occurs in many countries and is approved of and supported by Twitter. On processing a successful complaint from "government officials, companies or another outside party" about an illegal tweet, Twitter will notify users from that country that they may not see it.[1] In other cases the authorities may take unilateral action to block the site.

Access to Twitter is currently blocked in North Korea, China, and Iran.


Twitter is blocked in China; however, many Chinese people use it anyway.[2] In 2010 Cheng Jianping was sentenced to 1 year in a labor camp for retweeting a comment that suggested boycotters of Japanese products should instead attack the Japanese pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Her fiancé, who made the initial tweet, claims it was actually a satire of anti-Japanese sentiment in China.[3]


Twitter was inaccessible in Egypt on 25 January 2011 during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Some news reports blamed the government of Egypt for blocking it,[4] and Vodafone Egypt, Egypt's largest mobile network operator, said it wasn't their action;[5] however, Twitter's news releases did not state who the company believes instituted the block.[6] As of January 26, Twitter was still confirming that the service was blocked in Egypt.[7] On January 27, various reports claimed that access to the entire Internet from within Egypt had been shut down.[8]

Shortly after the Internet shutdown, engineers at Google, Twitter, and SayNow, a voice-messaging startup company acquired by Google in January, announced the Speak To Tweet service. Google stated in its official blog that the goal of the service was to assist Egyptian protesters in staying connected during the Internet shutdown.[9] Users could phone in a tweet by leaving a voicemail and use the Twitter hashtag #Egypt. These tweets could be accessed without an Internet connection by dialing the same designated phone numbers. Those with Internet access could listen to the tweets by visiting

On February 2 connectivity was re-established by the four main Egyptian service providers.[10][11][12] A week later, the heavy filtering that occurred at the height of the revolution had ended.


Following the posting of an antisemitic and racists posts by anonymous users, Twitter removed those posts from its service. Lawsuits were filed by the Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), a French advocacy group and, on 24 January 2013, Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud ordered Twitter to divulge the personally identifiable information about the user who posted the antisemitic post, charging that the posts violated French laws against hate speech. Twitter responded by saying that it was "reviewing its options" regarding the French charges. Twitter was given two weeks to comply with the court order before daily fines of €1,000 (about US$1,300) would be assessed. Issues over jurisdiction arise, because Twitter has no offices nor employees within France, so it is unclear how a French court could sanction Twitter.[13][14][15]


Twitter accounts spoofing the Prime Minister of India such as PM0India, Indian-pm and PMOIndiaa were blocked in India in August 2012 following violence in Assam.[16]


In 2009, during [17] In September 2013, the blocking of both Twitter and Facebook was briefly lifted without notice due to a technical error, however, within a day the sites were blocked again.[18]


On 19 May 2014, Twitter blocked pro-Ukrainian political account for Russian users. It happened soon after, a Russian official had threatened to ban Twitter entirely if it refused to delete tweets that violated Russian law, according to the Russian news site Izvestia.[19]

On 27 July 27, 2014, Twitter blocked an account belonging to a hacker collective that has leaked several internal Kremlin documents to the Internet.[20]

South Korea

In August 2010, the Government of South Korea tried to block certain content on Twitter due to the North Korean government opening a Twitter account.[21] The North Korean Twitter account created on August 12, uriminzok, loosely translated to mean "our people" in Korean, acquired over 4,500 followers in less than one week. On August 19, 2010, South Korea's state-run Communications Standards Commission banned the Twitter account for broadcasting "illegal information."[22] According to BBC US and Canada, experts claim that North Korea has invested in "information technology for more than 20 years" with knowledge of how to use social networking sites.[23] This appears to be "nothing new" for North Korea as the reclusive country has always published propaganda in its press, usually against South Korea, calling them "warmongers."[23] With only 36 tweets, the Twitter account was able to accumulate almost 9,000 followers. To date, the South Korean Commission has banned 65 sites, including this Twitter account.[22]


On 20 March 2014, access to Twitter was blocked when a court ordered that "protection measures" be applied to the service. This followed earlier remarks by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who vowed to "wipe out Twitter" following damaging allegations of corruption in his inner circle.[24] However, on 27 March 2014, Istanbul Anatolia 18th Criminal Court of Peace suspended the above-mentioned court order. Turkey's constitutional court later ruled that the ban is illegal.[25] Two weeks after the Turkish government blocked the site, the Twitter ban was lifted.[26] On Sunday April 20, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, FAZ, reported Twitter had blocked two regime hostile accounts in Turkey, @Bascalan and @Haramzadeler333, both known for pointing out corruption.[27] In fact, on 26 March 2014, Twitter announced that it started to use its Country Withheld Content tool for the first time in Turkey.[28] As of June 2014, Twitter was withholding 14 accounts and "hundreds of tweets" in Turkey.[29]

United Kingdom

Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to shut down Twitter for the duration of the 2011 England riots,[30] but no action was taken.


Twitter images were temporarily blocked in Venezuela in February 2014[31] along with other sites used to shares images including as well as Zello, a walkie-talkie app.[32] In response to the block, Twitter offered Venezuelan users a workaround to get tweets via text message on their mobile phones.[33]


  1. ^ "Twitter's censorship plan rouses global furor". CBS News.  
  2. ^ Bamman, D; O'Connor, B; Smith, N (March 5, 2012). "Censorship and deletion practices in Chinese social media.". First Monday (University of Illinois at Chicago) 17 (3). Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Chinese woman, Cheng Jianping, sentenced to a year in labor camp over Twitter post Aliyah Shahid, 2010 11 18, NY Daily News, 2010-11-18
  4. ^ Murphy, Dan (January 25, 2011). "Inspired by Tunisia, Egypt's protests appear unprecedented".  
  5. ^ "Twitter / Vodafone Egypt: We didn't block twitter - ...".  
  6. ^ Sherman, Alex (January 26, 2011). "Twitter Says Access to Service in Egypt Is Blocked".  
  7. ^ "Twitter / Twitter Comms: Egyptrr continues to block T ...". Twitter. January 26, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ Kanalley, Craig (27 January 2011). "Egypt's Internet Shut Down, According To Reports". Huffington Post. 
  9. ^ Singh, Ujjwal. "Some weekend work that will (hopefully allow more Egyptians to be heard.". Google. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Egypt internet comes back online". BBC News. 2 February 2011. 
  11. ^ Craig Labovitz (2 February 2011). "Egypt Returns to the Internet". Arbor Networks. 
  12. ^ James Cowie (2 February 2011). "Egypt Returns To The Internet". Renesys. 
  13. ^ Pfanner, Eric; Somini Sengupta (24 January 2013). "In a French Case, a Battle to Unmask Twitter Users". New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "French court rules on hate tweets".  
  15. ^ Marchive, Valéry. "Twitter ordered to give up details of racist tweeters". ZDNet. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "India targets social media sites after Assam violence".  
  17. ^ "Iran Blocks Facebook, Twitter Sites Before Elections (Update1)". Bloomberg. May 23, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Iran Unblocks Twitter and Facebook". Chris Taylor.  
  19. ^ "Twitter Blocks Pro-Ukrainian Political Account for Russian Users", Brian RiesMay, Mashable, 19 May 2014.
  20. ^ "Twitter 'Blocks' Access to Russia's Most Infamous Hackers", Kevin Rothrock, Global Voices Online, 27 July 2014.
  21. ^ Post Store (August 21, 2010). "South Korea tries to block Twitter messages from North". Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  22. ^ a b August 19, 2010 Zachary Sniderman View Comments (2010-08-19). "North Korea's Newly Launched Twitter Account Banned by South Korea". Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  23. ^ a b Boyd, Clark (2010-08-18). "BBC News – North Korea creates Twitter and YouTube presence". Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  24. ^ "Twitter website 'blocked' in Turkey", BBC News, 20 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  25. ^ "Turkey Twitter ban: Constitutional court rules illegal".  
  26. ^ "'"#BBCtrending: Turkey's Twitter block 'lifted.  
  27. ^ "Twitter sperrt regierungsfeindliche Konten". 20 April 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  28. ^ Gadde, Vijaya (26 March 2014). "Challenging the access ban in Turkey". Twitter Blog. Twitter. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  29. ^ Sözeri, Efe Kerem (28 June 2014). "Twitter Yasakları: Yolsuzluk, Dedikodu ve Biraz Porno". Bianet. Bianet. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "'"Riots: David Cameron threatens Twitter 'shut down. The Scotsman. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  31. ^ Knibbs, Kate (February 17, 2014). "Venezuela censors tweets amid protests, Twitter confirms". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  32. ^ Chao, Loretta (Feb 21, 2014). "Twitter, Other Apps Disrupted in Venezuela Amid Protests".  
  33. ^ "witter reports image blocking in Venezuela".  

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