Twitter uses country-specific censorship for first time

Twitter has blocked access to a neo-Nazi account at the request of the German government, the first time it’s put its local censorship plans into action.

Earlier this year, the company announced that it would selectively delete tweets in particular countries where they violate local laws, while leaving them visible in the rest of the world.

Now, it’s banned the account of a right-wing extremist group called Besseres Hannover, a group which itself has been forcibly shut down by the German government and is the subject of a criminal investigation.

“We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We’re using it now for the first time re: a group deemed illegal in Germany,” says – Twitter’s general counsel Alex Macgillivray – in a pair of tweets, naturally. “Never want to withhold content; good to have tools to do it narrowly & transparently.”

In line with the company policy, the group’s Twitter account is still visible in the rest of the world. However, German users will instead see a message reading: “Tweet withheld. This Tweet from @hannoverticket has been withheld in: Germany. Learn more.”

In any case, the members of Besseres Hannover have probably got more important things to think about than tweeting. Twenty of them are currently up on charges of inciting racial hatred and creating a criminal organisation, including sending a threatening video to the Lower Saxony’s social affairs minister, Aygul Ozkan, who is of Turkish origin.