Twitter is now working hand-in-hand with Germany and other governments to censor free speech
In a first for the social media giant, Twitter has blocked a German group's account on the micro-blogging site, but the block is restricted to Germany. Twitter has agreed to act on behalf of governments around the world who want to control free speech.
The blocking of the @hannoverticker account, which German police believe is promoting a neo-Nazi viewpoint and is therefore illegal in Germany, marks the first time that Twitter has used a policy announced back in January to block content at the request of specific countries.
The Associated Press reports the account is used by Besseres Hannover (Better Hannover), a group that was banned by a German state government last month. The Lower Saxony police force sent in a letter requesting that the account be removed, which, in an effort for transparency, Twitter has made public.
"At the beginning of the year Twitter announced the so-called 'country withheld content' function, which enables us to remove illegal content in a particular country while leaving it available for the rest of the world," said Twitter spokesman Dirk Hensen to The Associated Press.
Twitter has refined its technology to censor messages on a country-by-country basis.
Turkey arrests man for daring to Tweet an "insult" to Islam
- Freedom of speech or thought. Not under Islam
A top Turkish pianist and composer appeared in court on Thursday to defend himself against charges of offending Muslims and insulting Islam in comments he made on Twitter.
Fazil Say, who has played with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and others, is on trial for sending tweets that included one in April that joked about a call to prayer that lasted only 22 seconds.
Say tweeted: "Why such haste? Have you got a mistress waiting or a raki on the table?" Raki is a traditional alcoholic drink made with aniseed. Islam forbids alcohol and many Islamists consider the remarks unacceptable.
Prosecutors in June charged Say with inciting hatred and public enmity, and with insulting "religious values". He faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison, although any sentence is likely to be suspended.
Say, 42, is a strong critic of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a devout Muslim who has preached conservative values, alarming some secular Turks who fear the government plans to make religion part of their lifestyle.