Circumventing Twitter’s censorship
Twitter’s announcement that it will start censoring tweets where required by the law of the country concerned has upset many people. It is, however, difficult to know what else the company can do: the law is the law; and surely some twitter is better than no Twitter at all.
But maybe Twitter is better than we thought: The Next Web has pointed out that its own help files explain how to circumvent the censorship. Tweets will be censored on a country basis. Twitter understands the user’s country by the user’s IP address. But since this isn’t foolproof, especially on mobile devices, Twitter allows the user to manually change his or her country settings via a simple drop-down box.
The implication is that if you start finding ‘Withheld’ tweets in your timeline, simply telling Twitter that you are really in a different country with a less censorious regime will reveal them. It is, according to The Next Web, as simple as that.
What happens next will be telling. If this is just a loop-hole, we can expect Twitter to try to close it. But it’s difficult to imagine that Twitter doesn’t know its own system, and even more difficult to see what it can do about it. Purely relying on IP addresses will leave open the possibility of censoring tweets in or from countries that believe in freedom of expression.