Twitter censorship workaround fails to silence critics

Jan 27, 2012
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Twitter censorship workaround fails to silence critics

Twitter's decision to allow censorship of some tweets in certain countries has met not only with indignation from users but a speedy workaround that promises to unmask redacted content. In fact, Twitter itself prompted the idea; TNW spotted that by changing the manual country selection setting to a different location, in Twitter's own settings pages, social networkers can force the system to ignore IP address and reveal censored messages.

Twitter argued that the selective-censoring system was a better option than the company's existing approach, where locations that do not allow free-speech were simply blocked from seeing all of a users' tweets. However, privacy and free-speech advocates were quick to criticize the social network, claiming the decision would prevent future uses of Twitter as seen during the "Arab Spring" of 2011, when the site became a hub for communication when state-run methods were locked down.

The simplicity of this workaround - forcing Twitter to assume you are in a different location to where your IP address resolves to - is likely to prompt questions as to whether the social network left such an obvious loophole open on purpose. If not, it's possible that faking your location could be subsequently made more difficult.

Twitter is working with Chilling Effects to publicly flag up incidents where messages have been blocked, though the company says it is yet to actually implement the new system.


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