Twitter incurred Internet wrath when it announced in January that it would begin working with governments to selectively censor tweets in some countries. Activists envisioned the microblogging site cooperating with Middle Eastern despots or the Chinese goverenment to silence dissenters.
By coincidence or design, however, the first instance of Twitter applying its new censorship policy is one that seems likely to provoke outrage from only the most ardent free-speech advocates. On Wednesday night, Twitter general counsel Alex MacGillivray tweeted that the site had agreed to block the account of a neo-Nazi group called Besseres Hannover (“Better Hanover”) in response to a demand from the German government. He included links to both Twitter’s censorship policy and the official request from the German police, which notified the San Francisco-based company that Besseres Hannover “is disbanded, its assets are seized and all its accounts in social networks have to be closed immediately.” It asked that Twitter block its account and prevent it from opening alternate accounts.