Misguided Twitter Protests... And Why Twitter Could Have Explained Itself Better

from the think-this-through dept

Last week, Twitter announced that it now had the ability to block tweets geographically, if necessary. As we noted at the time, this appeared to be a way to limit the impact of censorship to certain countries. That is, rather than completely taking down content (as it would do before), instead it would limit the blocks to just the geographic region. On top of that, it would be quite transparent about this -- posting all info to ChillingEffects, and trying to let users know if they were visiting the page of a censored tweet.

Unfortunately, many people interpreted this as Twitter giving in to censors and allowing censorship. But that's a misreading of the situation. Again: Twitter already takes down content when required by law. Now it's trying to limit such takedowns. However, because people interpreted this to mean it was getting into the censorship business, there were protests against Twitter, which I think missed the point entirely.

The folks over at EFF have a good explainer post that details why this policy actually means less censorship, not more.

That said, Twitter still deserves some of the blame for the way in which it presented this. While it mentioned it in passing, it should have focused much more heavily on the fact that this was an attempt to limit the ability of countries to more widely censor info. Of course, there are some who believe Twitter should simply stand up against any and all attempts to take down content -- but the fact is that there are legal situations in which content is ordered to be taken down via a court order. In this case, Twitter is providing a lot more info and transparency than it was before. That's a good thing... but it's really not how they positioned their own story.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 2:51am

    So it's totally, completely ok for Twitter to block speech in a country, but not ok for a country (The US, for example) to block demonoid, what.cd, waffles, etc.

    You're a gigantic, transparent hypocrite.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 2:57am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 30th, 2012 @ 2:51am

    Perhaps, what you fail to consider, is that pissing off ALL repressive regimes means that you lose all your income streams: this way, people can see who is censoring what.

    Remember that all laws censor behaviours, at their most fundamental. The irony is that you cannot he censored, as you're nothing more than a coward, like me.

     

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  3.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:12am

    Re:

    I'll bite.

    OK: Twitter obeying a request from a legal authority to take down content in accordance with the *current* laws under which they operate. Especially when they attempt to limit the impact to specific geographical areas subject to the relevant laws and report the takedown requests via Chilling Effects.

    Not OK: Governments seeking to further expand their existing legal authority in ways that allow to assume defendants are guilty until proven innocent and remove content without any form of due process, adversarial hearings or legal redress in the event of inevitably mistaken allegations. Especially when they do so on behalf of private business interests rather than the citizens they are *supposed* to be representing.

    See the difference? (Probably not, but I live in hope)

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:14am

    I just saw something.

    To it a soup first you need to prepared it.

    It was about rabbits really is an old saying, meaning you can't just bypass necessary steps if you want something.

    People woke up to the danger of exclusionary laws that can be used for censorship, Twitter right now is feeling the heat of it, it doesn't matter why they are doing it, at the end of the day, they are doing it and people are not so willing to accept that, which could lead to internet companies to take a harder instance on those issues and don't fold so easily in the future for whatever reason that may be.

    The public has its eyes on the ball not what the others are doing at the sides.

     

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  5.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:15am

    Re:

    "You're a gigantic, transparent hypocrite."

    Your not supposed to cut and paste the next time from the trolling talking points to the troll post.

    Now I'll be curious all day what the preprovided response to someone calling you a gigantic, transparent hypocrite was going to be.

    0/10 - Fails at the use of cut and paste.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:16am

    Re:

    As for you don't you have an old lady to shake down or something?
    Maybe you can try to find some kid that is sharing something and sue him for his entire natural life earnings or jail a mother, ruin some business, extort money from others this is right up your alley isn't it?

     

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  7.  
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    frosty840, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:16am

    Re:

    Or you could actually read the post and note that nowhere does it say that censorship is a good thing, only that Twitter can currently be compelled by a court order to do so and that their actions serve to limit the extent of this censorship to a single nation.

     

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  8.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:18am

    Twitter really should have gotten someone else involved in their statement about this. Had they consulted with the EFF, the EFF could have had this whole explanation of why this is actually better than the past ready to roll out when Twitter made the announcement.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:37am

    Oh, did some of you idiots stage another protest? And it was again based on a misunderstanding? Snore.

     

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  10.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:39am

    Re:

    When being ordered to by a Court yes, Twitter could censor what it likes as it is its own private entity, like Google/Bing could censor search results... none of them do (unless ordered by a Court) as removing content/links would affect them as businesses.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:39am

    Twitter should not block anything... There was no misguided protests, we don't want Twitter censorship at anytime or anyplace.

     

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  12.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:42am

    Re:

    *blink*
    There was actually no misunderstanding over SOPA despite what you would like everyone to believe.
    But its good to see that your Cheerios are still thoroughly pissed in over it this far after the fact.

    I don't see why your so sad about the defeat of SOPA, had they managed to pass it you would have been out of a job trolling websites presenting your version of "truth".

    0/10 - have the coffee before trying to troll, you might come up with something better if your heart is actually beating.

     

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  13.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:55am

    "-- but the fact is that there are legal situations in which content is ordered to be taken down via a court order."

    Re-posting to chilling effects isn't complying with the order. Re-posting isn't taking down.
    If they aren't re-posting, then info related to it is probably useless.

    Blocking blocks of IP address' isn't complying with the order.
    If sopa/pipa is useless because people can get around the Great American Firewall to still access blocked sites, then how is this different?

     

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  14.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Re:

    before things just vanished.
    Now it will be more surgical, and you could still bypass it by spoofing your IP address, (Like the BBC video player).
    They are putting the records on Chilling Effects so people can see why it was done and who was behind it, so much of the time there are things we just don't know about. This adds more transparency about things, so the people know whom to take to task over these orders.
    It isn't a perfect solution, but it avoids a nightmare of Twitter being banned/blocked in different countries.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:06am

    Re: Re:

    Google deindexed millions of websites using .co.cc without any court order. How badly did that affect their business? When are you idiots going to protest that?

     

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  16.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not... Google deindexing .co.cc websites must have been a business based decision and as I said as a private entity they are well within their rights to do it.

    You really need to start to understand the difference between buisnesses "censoring" content based on business based decisions and Governments doing co because they can.

     

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  17.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:21am

    Mixed feelings

    I have mixed feelings. This solution is actually pretty good, you just 'censor' some account in a determined country that issues bad judicial decisions based on flawed data or corporate interests (*cough*USA*cough*) instead of deleting it. Might be a good short-term solution for the censorship attempts from such rogue countries. Twitter is doing it right here and showing the true collors of some rotten countries. But...

    Still, censorship is censorship no matter how you paint it.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, I do understand the difference. Censoring without a court order to do so is worse, no?

    And, um, you said "none of them do (unless ordered by a Court) as removing content/links would affect them as businesses" and I then gave you an example of Google doing exactly the thing you said they don't do.

    Now you're defending the very action that you said Google would never do by calling it a "business based decision."

    So when a business unilaterally decides that a website is useless, that's OK. But when a court of law decides the same thing, it's not OK. Got it.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:28am

    Re: Re:

    Huh? You don't make much sense. There was PLENTY of misunderstanding surrounding the SOPA debate on both sides of the issue.

     

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  20.  
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    abc gum, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Twitter is simply getting on the region code band wagon.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:31am

    Re:

    Right. Twitter should just leave all those links to child porn and computer viruses alone. The web is a free-for-all!! Fuck you if something bad happens to you in cyberspace!!

     

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  22.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Google was upfront about the reasons for co.cc.
    Governments are rarely upfront about their underhanded movements.

    Google is not elected, Governments are.

    It is fun watching you stretch to try to shift blame things on Google, is this going to replace chubby as the new AC pattern here? Trying to paint Google as something more evil than the Government?

    Google is just a search engine, if you want to find the co.cc domains you still can. When a government attempts to censor something they attempt to make it cease to exist.

    1/10 - You called Google out as being evil... rest of the net says well DUR.

     

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  23.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I know it can be hard keeping up with my use of long words like If, and, the...

    SOPA was a crappy law paid for by special interests, the fact you claim neither side understood it helps solidify the idea it should have been defeated...

    0/10 - Thanks for playing, heres your years supply of Ramen Noodles... Brick Meal for all of your nutritional needs.

     

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  24.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:45am

    Re: Re:

    Aww you pulled out kiddie porn and viruses.
    Your small overheated mind is working overtime.

    From your anger I am guessing the Nigerian Prince you send your banking details to wasn't being truthful about the millions you were going to make.

    0/10 - Keep reaching for the stars, you might get one yet.

     

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  25.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:47am

    Re:

    Twitter should not block anything... There was no misguided protests, we don't want Twitter censorship at anytime or anyplace.


    Welcome to a world without twitter then. IT will be listed as a terrorist organization and then dealt with from outer space.

    Anyways, what makes yo think that the web won't route around the damage? say by going to tumblr, or G+ or facebook, or some yet to be setup service.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:48am

    Re: Re:

    Obviously they still retain the right to universally block content (such as child porn) that is universally condemned. I have to agree with Mike and the EFF on this one. More important than maintaining a revenue stream in oppressive countries it allows them to maintain a presence where the rest of the world can specifically track the censorship attempts by those regimes leaving in place the evidence for the rest of the world to see and use to decry these abuses of power. This in fact IS standing up to the oppression by exposing them for what they are.

     

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  27.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:49am

    Re: Mixed feelings

    Censorship is bad, but falling on ones sword and ending a business as a protest seems like a bad thing.
    With the censorship being more wide known there is a chance the people might be able to move their governments to stop being so stupid.
    Keeping twitter going so people can still benefit from it, while encouraging people to understand the issues at play seems like the best plan they can get in these muddy waters.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Really, you're going to score my post like a child. Boring, dude. And drop the nonsense about trying to understand my post as some sort of "new AC pattern." You really sound stupid. Just address what I'm actually saying like a big boy.

    So it's OK for Google because they were upfront? I don't recall them saying anything about it 'til afterward. Can you point to where they explained the action before they took it? And can you also explain how Google knew that each and every website they delisted was useless? It doesn't seem possible that they could have inspected each and every one. That being the case, then they deindexed sites without even making a determination that that particular site was bad. And you don't see any problem with this?

    That's way worse than a court of law determining that a specific site is dedicated to infringement. SOPA and PROTECT IP provide for court action--doesn't get much more open than that. And why is it OK for Google to decide on its own to deindex a site, but it's not OK for a court to order Google to deindex a site? Please explain to me that.

     

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  29.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    Censorship will always occur.

    They will always be censorship in one manner or another. Censorship happens everyday. Courts censor litigants with gag orders, you censor yourself from telling that funny but not-so nice joke, businesses censor the data they provide to the customers and investors.

    Censorship in and of itself is not a bad thing.

    What is worse is when you do not even know about the information being censored. When you don't know what you don't know. We will never be able to stop all censorship.

    The best we can hope is to at least know it is happening and who is doing it.


    Because at least then we can work to get around or defeat it.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And the SOPA opposition was paid for by special interests. That's how the game is played.

    And I'm happy to have a chat with you, but if you're going to childishly score each post of mine, I'll find someone else to chat with. You really, really look like an idiot doing this. I'm sure you think it's clever. It's just stupid. Sorry.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 4:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Of course they can block whatever they want, they're a private company. My point was that the people who have a huge problem with blocking when it's IP-related typically don't have a problem with it when it's viruses or child porn. That shows it's not the blocking that's the problem for opponents--it's simply a judgment call from them about what information is OK to block.

     

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  32.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 5:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Or allowing the AG to just decide it is infringing based on 1 sided information from a media corporation.
    They did so well with Dajaz1 and the subdomains they took out at collateral damage branding those who ran them as pedophiles.

    "Sometimes that means tweaking its algorithm to prevent SEO-gaming; other times it means dropping over 11 million sites from search results, as the company just did in blocking the .co.cc subdomain. Google classifies it as a "freehost" -- it belongs to a Korean company that provides free or cheap domains, often bulk-registered -- and after automated scanning revealed a high percentage of malware-hosting sites, decided to scrub the entire lot from its results. Of course, this is something like using a nuclear weapon against cockroaches: it causes a lot of collateral damage, while your real target scurries to its next hideout. "
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/10/google-pulls-co-cc-subdomains-from-search-brings-our-global-ma l/

    Again delisting something from a search engine and censoring something off the net are 3 different things. Comparing apples to oranges isn't going to work no matter how hard you yell and stomp your foot.

    It is nice to see each refinement of your argument at each stage to try and keep the idea alive but its not actually working.

    Oh and I grade the posts so that the trolls might learn to up their game and make it at least a challenge to debate them. Shooting fish in a barrel gets boring. If you dislike it then by all means stop trying to debate me.

    2/10 - You get points for spelling. :)

     

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  33.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 5:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Funny I opposed SOPA and no one was paying me.

    3/10 - You figured out I behave childishly... your perceptive.

     

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  34.  
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    SimonTek (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 5:13am

    Can you really explain what your trying to do with 160 characters? Couldn't resist.

     

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  35.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's how the game is played.

    Its not a game.

    These are our lives. Our freedoms. This is our country.

    So fuck you and lobbyist you rode in on.

    Also, you're wrong. The blackouts and protests were not paid for or organized by lobbyists, and they are what carried the day.

     

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  36.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You side-stepped one important point that
    The AC brought up.
    Google is not elected, Governments are.

    Your response to this?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The real issue comes down to who decides to that there needs to be a block. A simple analogy here:

    When you go to a restaurant or bar there is often a sign that says "The management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason."

    Twitter's service, Twitter's right. However on the other hand, if a third party company or other government entity wants to FORCE Twitter to block content against their will, there's a problem.

     

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  38.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's where due process comes in - if Twitter is served with a court order forcing blockages to a tweet, then I think it's sensible that the order is also made public, with the rare exception.

     

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  39.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 6:41am

    Re:

    "Kill all American Infidels for corrupting the Earth!!!"

     

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  40.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And the SOPA opposition was paid for by special interests.

    You are really not getting it are you? The public outcry over SOPA was not Google Zombies doing what they were told. Google didn't control it at all. If Google does something that go against the ethos of the internet they would face the same sort of outcry. They are not immune.

    That's how the game is played.

    Perhaps that is an insight as to why you are not getting it. The internet populace doesn't play by the old rules anymore and they are certainly not playing any sort of game, it's for keeps.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 6:54am

    Re:

    Oy, chubby, you forgot the buzzwords for the week! Slimy, two-faced shit.

    Enjoy being magically unanonymous, chubby.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If they are doing it they are doing it alone and at their own peril they can't force others to do the same, they can't mandate or punish people who don't comply that is the difference idiot.

    Google can't order YaCy to do the same, they can't order DuckDuckGo to do it.

     

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  43.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re:

    "before things just vanished."
    That was their first mistake.


    "By order of the high court of China(?)."

    Now what?

    Seems to me it is to make money, not provide a service.
    Why are they listening to China(?)?
    Send your message to the world except where it has been asked not to be shown.

    More transparency would be replacing twit with a statement stating why it is no longer there. Making me search for a reason by going to another site doesn't seem that transparent to me. That or not removing twit at all.

    Stating it violates US copyright law doesn't tell me squat either.

    We need to quit trying to re-write history. Court ordered or not.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is ok because they are not demanding or forcing anybody to do it, what about not forcing someone to do something you do not understand dumbass?

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re:

    He is probably using the latest sock puppet software. Its not cut and paste any more, its double click in the ad hominem window.

     

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  46.  
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    Thomas Addley, Jan 30th, 2012 @ 8:46am

    Understanding

    If people understood what they read, there would have been no misunderstanding. Twitter was very clear as to their intent. Seems that people only understand things, the way they want them to be, not as they are.

     

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    Zane Stuart (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 8:48am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:37am

    Yes. Yes they did. I'm not a heavy tweeter. Heavy drinker - yes. Tweeter - not so much. But even I, in my liquified and muddled mental state, recognised that this was a work-around for Twitter and not a bow to censorship.

     

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  48.  
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    lavi d (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 9:21am

    Under the Radar

    Thai Gov't Welcomes Twitter's Censorship Plans

    I wonder if Twitter's clumsy announcement was worded specifically to be received positively by leaders of oppressive regimes?

     

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  49.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Under the Radar

    "...leaders of oppressive regimes?"

    You already know this don't you? You must. You just stated it.

    What will denying twit to those countries and posting to chilling effects accomplish? Inform you that they are an oppressive regime? What site will "chilling effects" post to when they are asked to block that content?

    After reading what I am about to paste here, I have to wonder about the EFF as well.
    "So if a retail game comes with online-activated DRM or some other method for preventing a second owner from playing, doesn't that go against this longstanding legal principle? Probably not, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation Intellectual Property Director Corryne McSherry. While the first-sale doctrine says a company can't stop you from selling, giving away or even breaking your legally purchased software, "I donít think it is binding on others to assist you in doing all of those things," she says.

    "I think the first-sale doctrine... would say you have a right to sell your old game... and you have the right to purchase a used game... but the first-sale doctrine doesnít require somebody to build a used book store, if you know what I mean," she continued. In other words, just because you can sell a used game doesn't mean the platform maker has to make it easy, or even possible, for the new owner to play it."
    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2012/01/is-it-legal-to-stop-people-from-selling-their-games .ars

    That is double-speak. You have the right to sell used items, so long as original producer doesn't block it in some way.

    Nobody had to build "Auto Trader" or a used car lot either.
    These came after the fact.

     

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  50.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Bryan has now made his Twitter account private, thereby ending the DHS's ability to track his terror plans."
    http://boingboing.net/2012/01/30/brits-deported-from-u-s-for-t.html

     

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  51.  
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    Laroquod (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:17pm

    Compare with Google doing business in China

    When Google decided to do business and open up offices in China, etc., they enabled country-specific censorship as part of that move, and they were roundly condemned for it. Nobody even suggested that Google would censor everybody else's search results in order to comply with China -- that was not even on the table: something only a crazy person would suggest.

    Boys, have things ever changed. Now, Twitter does the same thing, implementing country-specific censorship, and we are supposed to THANK them for not censoring everybody instead of on a country-specific basis? We are supposed to THANK them for not doing what it was insane to even contemplate Google would do?

    I don't think so. I don't want Google nor Twitter censoring their results, on any basis. Thank you very much -- I am not interested in your country-specific compromise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    JMT (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "My point was that the people who have a huge problem with blocking when it's IP-related typically don't have a problem with it when it's viruses or child porn."

    Wow! You've finally figured out that most people consider child porn and computer viruses a far more serious problem than IP infringement. Well done catching up with the rest of us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    Jamie (profile), Jan 30th, 2012 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The AC brought up.
    Google is not elected, Governments are.

    Your response to this?"

    If you don't like what Google have done, you can quickly and easily start using another search engine. There's nothing to stop you.

    If you don't like a censorship order from a foreign government, there's absolutely nothing you can do. A search engine has little choice but to comply, otherwise they may be blocked completely, may face hefty fines, or their directors may face other legal complications (especially if they try to enter the country that made the order).

    If you don't like a censorship order from your own government, you can write to your representative and complain. You also get the chance to try and vote the ruling party out in the next election. All you have to do is hope that the next government isn't just more of the same as the current one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    William, Feb 2nd, 2012 @ 3:05pm

    Re:

    Yes, we should have them shutdown for child porn. Good job moron, you're clearly a special one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re:

    "A request for an injunction to stop Twitter users from alerting drivers to police roadblocks, radar traps and drunk-driving checkpoints could make Brazil the first country to take Twitter up on its plan to censor content at governments' requests.


    It said it has no plans to remove tweets unless it receives a request from government officials, companies or another outside party that believes the message is illegal."
    http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2012/02/09/10365369-brazil-files-injunction-against-twitter

    No problem here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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