30 Jan 2012 - Maria Kivimaa


Last week SOPA tried to stifle the ‘free speech’ of the internet, but failed, and now it’s Twitter’s turn. Is the internet shutting its own mouth? The micro-blogging service is enabling country-specific censorship. They claim it’s for the greater good, since without this possibility it would be impossible or at least very hard to expand to new countries, where freedom of speech is yet an unknown pleasure. Plus this means that certain controversial tweets don’t have to be blocked globally.

Twitter’s decision is obviously good for their business. Or is it? Their whole business is based on freedom of expression, giving voice to the people. To people whose voice would otherwise not get heard (or listened to. Hi, Peaches G.). And now this idea is being cruelly axed. What does the brand stand for now? Why does it exist? It maybe growing on the outside, but it has lost something on the inside.

This personally reminds me of a case that happened some years ago in Finland: our newly selected female president (who, admittedly, looks like Conan O’Brien; he actually dedicated whole episodes to this issue) wore a head scarf while visiting Muslim countries.  Was she being wise or a coward? Yes, to be able to promote trade and maintain diplomatic relationships and have a good old chat with men in those countries women must do that. But is it a sign of them giving up their own values? Then again, they are on another territory so should they play by the local rules, no matter how wrong they seem? Who are we, Western wasters, to tell them their beliefs (for example on the dangers of free-flowing woman hair) are wrong and our values are right? Who are we to tell them that equality and human rights and freedom of speech are quite nice things? But if we don’t, who will? The free-thinkers in China won’t be tweeting about it, that’s for sure.

Grow some balls first, Twitter, and then your business.

(Oh, one more thing. As Boing Boing points out, there was also a nice little contribution of $300m made by a Saudi prince a few months ago. Well, coincidences do happen. Don’t they?)