Official Chinese Newspaper Endorses Twitter’s New Approach To Censorship

The Global Times thinks Twitter is doing the right thing:

It is important for it to respect the cultures and ideas of different countries so as to blend into local environments harmoniously. This is normal practice. To some extent, it is a necessary step in the evolution of Twitter. But many of its users, particularly some political activists and dissidents, have found it unacceptable…

Networks like Facebook and Twitter played a big role in pushing forward the events including both the Arab Spring and riots in London last year. The tendency has prompted governments to curb the use of social networking platforms in times of emergency. But there is also some debate on the boundaries of the freedom of speech.

It is impossible to have boundless freedom, even on the Internet and even in countries that make freedom their main selling point.

The announcement of Twitter might have shown that it has already realized the fact and made a choice between being an idealistic political tool as many hope and following pragmatic commercial rules as a company.

Sarah Lacy thinks a Chinese (and Thai) government endorsement of Twitter’s censorship regime is bad PR, even though she doesn’t disagree with Twitter’s policy:

I still don’t disagree with the op-ed. But now I feel a little uncomfortable with that fact. The Chinese and Thai government aren’t exactly helping Twitter turn the PR mess around by voicing their enthusiastic support. With friends like these…

The Chinese reaction is predictable. In fact, I told the Wall Street Journal last week that:

That’s not to say Twitter’s latest move won’t have an impact on China. Implausible as it may be for the company to establish itself in the country, Mr. Bishop notes, its embrace of content filtering could aid Beijing in making the argument that the Internet is a space in need of censorship.

Well done Twitter. China still is not going to let you in but you have earned some brownie points (should we call them Panda points?) for helping China with its Internet censorship arguments. And you have reminded us all that free speech is under attack everywhere.

Follow me on Twitter @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop.

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