Twitter is facing a storm of criticism from its users after the social microblogging site yesterday said that it is planning to censor messages on a country-by-country basis.
The announcement is a u-turn to its last year's stand that 'the tweets must flow', a move that made Twitter famous for tweeting to the world on the unrest across the Arab world that led to the demise of decades-old regimes.
The announcement made yesterday was ironically exactly the day after the first anniversary of the Arab Spring on 25 January and has taken the Arab world by surprise as Twitter, considered a bastion of free speech, is now at the mercy of the whims of policy makers in each country.
According to the microblogging site, a tweet containing content breaking a law in one country can be taken down there and still be seen elsewhere, which means that people within the country will not be able to view what is being tweeted, but citizens of other countries can.
The move is a radical change from what Twitter wrote in a blogpost in January 2011 that, while it did not always agree with the things people choose to tweet, ''we must keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content.''
Yesterday Twitter wrote in a blogpost, ''As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.