The Internet has given more people more access to information than ever before—a fact that concerns governments around the world. European nations are censoring any Nazi affiliated content; East Asian nations are very scrupulous on what content can be accessed by citizens; South Asian countries like India are filing legal suits on websites that are promoting what they view as harmful content; and of course, the United States is more concerned with sharing and using copyrighted information illegally.

Twitter CensorshipFrom proposed SOPA legislation to outright censorship, various global restriction attempts have lead many corporations like Google and Twitter to alter their business models to comply with governmental policies while still maximizing on their ideals. Twitter, for instance, recently announced that they will be initiating country-specific censorship, removing content in the particular country in which the content is unlawful. This method, according to Twitter, still promotes free expression and allows information to be shared, just to a limited audience. The compromise was established because of Twitter’s belief that certain information should still be available to those who are legally allowed to access it rather than removing it altogether, as they were forced to do before.

Many users, however, are unhappy with Twitter’s decision because they feel Twitter encouraged free speech, and their compliance of governmental policies is falling back on their own ideals.  While Twitter could fight for the “free speech” right, it is in their best business interest to comply with national government’s laws in order to retain and increase users globally. Twitter’s decision not only benefits their company, but benefits its users as well. Instead of its previous process of completely removing content based on complaints without any of the users knowing, Twitter has announced that they intend to increase the user’s transparency of what content is blocked. Twitter will put up alert boxes on censored content, which will state that a Tweet or username is withheld along with informing the user that their content has been removed. To add on to a user’s transparency, Twitter has also collaborated with Chilling Effects to list all complaints filed to Twitter, and by whom. It is also important to consider that no content will be removed unless and until a complaint has been filed against the post, and it has been verified to be illegal by Twitter employees.

In a practical context, Twitter has efficiently created a solution that many other Internet platforms are or will be struggling with. While it does not allow the freedom of speech and viewing for all, it does still provide the luxury to audiences in countries that have less censorship concerns for certain topics, and all through an honest, legal, and transparent approach. It may even increase freedom of speech by expanding into previously forbidden area like China and Iran. Since Twitter’s announcement, Thailand is accepting Twitter’s censorship terms and allowing the site to be public to their citizens.

It will be interesting to see if other Internet platforms will emulate Twitter’s compromise, especially companies like Google, who have to route Chinese search results through Hong Kong because of conflicts with the Chinese government’s restrictions.  In fact, Google India has taken already taken a similar step by blocking politically targeted content in compliance with a recent law passed by the Indian Congress. This balance between information and control will continue to be an important and controversial topic for years to come.