Twitter announced changes in its privacy policies, which immediately raised concerns for freedom activists in addition to writers and reporters in other lands, who feel their ability to share stories, some that may be seen as ‘controversial’ by respective governments and authority figures, will be limited. The reaction comes at a sensitive time for most who want to maintain online freedoms, only a week after the wake of the recent SOPA/PIPA debacles.
To compound the concern, Google recently announced a shift in its brand’s privacy policies as well. Google, in an attempt to consolidate 70policies, will leverage its range of online products to custom-tailor each individual’s search experience. While many browsers celebrate a customized Web experience, some are concerned regarding Google’s decision to make the personalization a non-negotiable issue.
The Twitter brand, known for its real-time services, was quick to react to online concerns regarding its own decision. Advocates of the shift in policies point attention to some ‘advantages,’ Twitter’s ability to showcase “revoked” tweets in other countries, for one. Before the change in policy, Twitter would remove tweets indefinitely; now, revoked tweets can be seen outside their respective countries. Removal requests, often voiced by companies or governments for copyright and speech laws, will be obeyed, but on a per-country basis.
Perhaps freedom fighters are rushing in too soon. For one, it seems like limiting the omitted tweets on a per-country basis still allows for widespread awareness. Secondly, perhaps Twitter knows what it’s doing, understanding the popularity of the social media site across the globe, wanting to ensure its livelihood in as many places as possible. For instance, the Times article references a study performed on tweets originating from Africa. South Africa is the continent’s most active area for “tweeting,” with over twice as many as the second-highest active, Kenya, with Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco being amongst the most active countries.
While tensions related to online freedoms have been high recently, maybe Twitter’s shift in policy is a success for freedom. The Times article culminates in a positive gesture, pointing attention to the fact that the new policy involves publishing information about where the posting was blocked. Online browsers and freedom fighters now have more information to spread about information related to “revoked” tweets.