Queen's University

Twitter looking to restrict tweets in certain countries: Queen's University expert

2012-02-02

Queen’s University expert professor David Skillicorn is available to comment on Twitter restricting tweets in specific countries. With the change, Twitter can now withhold content from users in a specific country while keeping it available to the rest of the world. This is an issue after Twitter was used by government protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries.

“Twitter's plans to censor content in certain countries is unlikely to do anything much to limit free speech,” says Dr. Skillicorn. “Presumably, Twitter will remove tweets that contain certain words.

However, the obvious response by posters will be to replace such words with other versions -- a small step since many twitter posts are already written in a kind of shorthand/patois/dialect. For example, a tweet ‘Attack the presidential palace’ might become ‘Wash the presidential limo’ and most of the readers would get the meaning. It is possible to determine when innocuous words have been used to replace more dangerous ones but the process requires longer documents and considerable processing.”

To arrange an interview, please contact communication officers Anne Craig at 613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca or Michael Onesi at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 or michael.onesi@queensu.at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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