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Thailand can't wait to wield Twitter censorship hammer

Tweet-smashing tech welcomed by govt

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Thailand has become the first nation in the world to embrace Twitter's controversial censorship scheme.

Last week Twitter said it was prepared to block content on a country-by-country basis as required by each jurisdiction. The social network said it will "reactively withhold content from users in a specific country" in the interests of allowing Twitter to further expand globally and "enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression". Twitter said in cases where it withheld tweets it would inform the user, as well as logging incidents of gagging orders with Chilling Effects.

The micro-blogging service announced this move in a blog post entitled the "Tweets still must flow". Critics were quick to decry the move as caving in to global censorship. Human rights activists, while not exactly welcoming the development, said that at least Twitter was been transparent. The capitulation stung because Twitter was prominently used to organise protest movements, such as the Arab Spring last year.

The censorship scheme gained its first government-level endorsement when a senior official in Thailand said the country wanted to work with Twitter to use the feature. Last year alone the nation asked Facebook to remove more than 10,000 pages deemed insulting or critical of the Thai royal family, in violation of Thailand's lese majeste law. The same concerns led to a long-running blocking of YouTube in Thailand during 2006 that was only lifted after the video clip service selectively censored offending video, The Next Web reports.

ICT permanent secretary Jeerawan Boonperm told the Bangkok Post that Twitter's censorship scheme was a "welcome development" that the Thai government wanted to apply locally.

Late last year the opposition Democrat Party tried to secure support for a complete ban on accessing Western social media websites, praising the Chinese model, The Next Web adds. The move failed, but it does highlight the alternative to locally censored social media services might be no social media services in the case of some countries. ®

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