It’s the end of free tweet as we know it. Sad but true, that microblogging site that once threatened to bring about new world order has caved in to political and economic pressure - enabling censorship of its operations on a country-by-country basis.
What with Facebook preparing to float on Wall Street for $75 billion or more, and Google allowing the Great Firewall of China free reign, it all sounds deeply depressing for those advocates of what Tim Berners-Lee believed would be a world wide web synonymous with free and open human knowledge . Maybe in the next world…
Which just goes to show that the web is not immune, as some people seem to think, from the influence of political power, ownership and control that besets so many traditional media organisations across the world. The web can be turned into a tool of social control much like television and radio, though, of course, the web does allow space for alternative/dissenting voices – if they can be heard once marginalised by Twitter, Google, Facebook and other online big guns.
An interesting case in point is Twitter in Thailand. The Thai authorities are delighted that Twitter will now comply with their local laws – laws that suppress political and other forms of protest. Perhaps this orchestrated and long-running campaign restricting freedom of speech explains why the people most likely to fall foul of Thai laws have not been the mostly conformist natives, but tourists and Thai expats.
So bye bye Twitter as we knew it, hello Twitter Corp - or, for some tweeters among us, the Ministry of Tweet (Minitweet).