Looks like Twitter’s censorship of tweets and the #outrage that followed are much ado about nothing. Not exactly. There is at least some truth to it but most of the outrage is overblown. You can’t really blame the perpetrators as they are come from SOPA in all parts of the world and government requests to block content in some parts of the world. Twitter outrage is only a natural reaction. But so was Twitter’s “censorship” move.
Before we go any further on why Twitter’s move isn’t as draconian as it is made out to be, let me tell you how to get around it. Twitter will not censor re-tweets, @replies or quoted tweets. Not even at the request of respective governments. This gives all the more reason to re-tweet. So when you find a tweet which has the potential to be blocked in any nation, just re-tweet.
Coming back to China and Twitter, China needs the content to be blocked before it makes it to the internet. The approach is proactive and not reactive. Twitter’s new move is a reactive move. The original tweet will be blocked out on a request from the government. Also the tweet will be blocked out in the respective country which made that request. China is also coming up with a real-name policy, something which Twitter has clearly said that it will not implement.
Besides, China already has a thriving micro-blogging (weibos) community in Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. Between those two services, half a billion accounts exist. Of course most of them are probably ghost or spam accounts, but China’s real-name policy will weed out the spammers.
Twitter’s CEO has said that the new policy is for transparency and not censorship. China’s Global Times have praised Twitter’s move for being pragmatic and explained how Twitter’s critics have confused business with politics. I have to agree with them. Though we have to understand that one can’t confuse business with politics, as they are inseparable. All anyone has to do is understand the political implications of a business decision (like blocking if you ask us) or the business implications of a political decisions (like banning social media sites because of the content posted by someone else).
If you are into multimedia, the above animation by Taiwan’s New Media Animation (via MIC Gadget) should tell you why Twitter can’t survive China’s Internet rules. If anything it should ask Google how it has been.