What makes social media an interesting field to study and follow is that you simply can’t predict what will happen next; it’s a world where things change every moment, where a simple ‘tweet’ could reach millions with a press of a button and a Facebook page could help bring down governments.
The one thing that was always constant was that most people believed that humanity has finally developed a medium that is truly democratic, in the sense that is it is free from any means of control or influence which could prevent a message from reaching the masses as it was intended by the sender.
People, including yours truly, often ridiculed those who spoke of conspiracy theories that there is a person or an organization which pushes a certain agenda across sites like Twitter or Facebook.
Of course, there were always the ‘acceptable’ measures which very of us ever complained about, such as the removal of graphic or obscene content (e.g., pornography or France and Germany banning Nazi content — an example used by Twitter to justify their policy). Every now and then, there would be a particular page or tweet removed but this just didn’t occur enough to become an issue.
(Declaration of Non-Independence? Twitter announces its new censorship strategy)
This was all true until the recent Twitter announcement that tweets can now be censored on a country-by-country basis, allowing posts that may be deemed problematic in one country to still appear in another.
As soon as the news broke, many ‘tweeps’ have expressed their severe disappointment with the decision and have accused the site of censorship. The hashtags #twittercensorship and #twitterblackout were quickly formed by users who are planning to protest by not tweeting on Jan. 28 in a stand against what they see as a threat to freedom of expression and information.
Now, what will be the outcome of such a boycott movement and whether or not it will be successful in reversing Twitter’s decision is something which only time will be able to tell.
What is certain is that users would have had much more impact if they were paying for the service, as only then would Twitter be forced to listen to their demands; at the end of the day, no business would ever risk upsetting its customers.
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