German Neo-Nazi Tweets Are the First Ever Censored by Twitter

Illustration for article titled German Neo-Nazi Tweets Are the First Ever Censored by Twitter

In an effort to stay on the right side of German law, Twitter has blocked access within Germany to all tweets by the neo-Nazi group Besseres Hannover. This is the first time Twitter has censored speech to keep a government happy. But before you cry "censorship," keep in mind that this is just good business.

The New York Times reports that German police requested that Twitter delete the Besseres Hannover account, because pro-Nazi speech is illegal in that country. Twitter only went so far as to block the tweets within the country, and if you head over to the Twitter page right now from anywhere else, you can see the group's 1011 tweets in all of their vileness.

It's always troubling to see free speech compromised, but perhaps in this situation Twitter's move seems defensible. Germany has very different speech laws than the United States.If Twitter refused to comply with police requests, it ran the risk of a broad government crackdown on the site. A countrywide blackout would be decidedly speech-inhibiting. Twitter has always said its priority will be to keep Tweets "flowing", even if it means some compromise with government. [New York Times]


Image via Spiegel Online

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The Diversionist

Doesn't "free speech" become reprehensible when it oppresses other people, at which point it becomes "hate speech"?