Twitter is an online social networking site that allows millions of people to pour out their thoughts in 140 characters or less. The globally popular site has recently announced that they will begin implementing a new censorship policy. According to Time Magazine, the company described this new policy as, “the ability to reactively withhold content from users in specific countries-while keeping it available for the rest of the world.” Effectively, Twitter is taking on the role of gatekeeper in making sure that tweets that are deemed against the law in certain countries never reach the computer screen of the public. China and Thailand have gone on the record and applauded Twitter’s steps to censor their users; however citizens of the United States view an act of censorship of this magnitude as a major hit to their Constitutional right of free speech.
Since Twitter is a private company, they do have every right to choose what will and will not be posted on their website. However, Twitter has constantly held itself out as a completely open public forum that is used as a platform for a multitude of things. Politicians have turned to Twitter to campaign, new businesses have used this network to take their company to the next level, and people of all ages have turned to this website to update their friends about their lives. At this point, the United States has not intervened on what is being posted; however, on the eve of pending bills such as PIPA and SOPA, Americans are taking a deeper look into their rights of free speech on the web. While the purpose behind PIPA and SOPA is to defend copyrights, a large portion of the populace views these bills as censorship and infringement on their rights. Website such as Wikipedia, youtube, and Pinterest that allow people to post videos, information, ideas and comments would be in violation of the law and would be forced to remove posts or would be shut down completely.
The line between censorship and free speech on virtual public forums is becoming more and more blurred. The government is getting more involved and taking a closer look at previously unregulated social networks. Twitter has been extremely useful in getting information to a large amount of people. This new policy will effectively prevent some of its users from receiving tweets which are deemed illegal by specific countries.