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Twitter implements new censorship policy for first time

Twitter has obstructed Germany's access to a neo-Nazi account, at the request of the German government.

The move represents the first time Twitter has withheld content in an individual country, after the January announcement of a new policy enabling the site to "reactively withhold content from users in a specific country (opens in new tab) – while keeping it available in the rest of the world."

Alex MacGillivray, general counsel of Twitter, last night took to the social networking site to express his regret that the policy had to be used at all (opens in new tab), stating, "Never want to withhold content; good to have tools to do it narrowly & transparently." The same tweet linked out to the letter from the Hannover Police (opens in new tab), which was sent to Twitter on the 25 September.

The document detailed that the organisation in question is illegal in Germany, and ordered that all of its social networking accounts are to be immediately shut down.

(opens in new tab)This means that, when attempting to access the account of "Besseres Hannover", the account in question, twitter users in Germany will be faced with the message, "This account has been withheld in: Germany (opens in new tab)."

Users elsewhere in the world can access the content as normal.

MacGillivray's tweet provoked a mixture of responses, with multiple users supporting the move and others insinuating that the incident may bring about a flood of uncontrolled censorship. However, the fact that over eight months passed between the policy's inception and its first usage, suggests otherwise.

The controversy surrounding British journalist Guy Adams, after he criticised the NBC's Olympics coverage, was referenced by one disappointed user.

Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews, Newsweek, and ITProPortal.