Censorship of Twitter occurs in accordance with the laws of the countries in which people use the service. On processing a successful complaint from "government officials, companies or another outside party" about an illegal "tweet", the social networking site will notify users from that country that they may not see it.[1] In other cases the authorities may take unilateral action to block the site.

Access to Twitter is currently blocked in North Korea, China, and Iran.

Censorship by Twitter

Twitter may suspend accounts, temporarily or permanently, from their social networking service. One such example is on 18 December 2017 where it banned the accounts belonging to Paul Golding, Jayda Fransen, Britain First, Traditionalist Worker Party.[citation needed]


Twitter is blocked in China; however, many Chinese people use it anyway.[2] In 2010 Cheng Jianping was sentenced to 1 year in a labor camp for "retweeting" a comment that suggested boycotters of Japanese products should instead attack the Japanese pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Her fiancé, who posted the initial comment, claims it was actually a satire of anti-Japanese sentiment in China.[3]


Twitter was inaccessible in Egypt on 25 January 2011 during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Some news reports blamed the government of Egypt for blocking it,[4] and Vodafone Egypt, Egypt's largest mobile network operator, said it wasn't their action;[5] however, Twitter's news releases did not state who the company believes instituted the block.[6] As of January 26, Twitter was still confirming that the service was blocked in Egypt.[7] On January 27, various reports claimed that access to the entire Internet from within Egypt had been shut down.[8]

Shortly after the Internet shutdown, engineers at Google, Twitter, and SayNow, a voice-messaging startup company acquired by Google in January, announced the Speak To Tweet service. Google stated in its official blog that the goal of the service was to assist Egyptian protesters in staying connected during the Internet shutdown.[9] Users could phone in a "tweet" by leaving a voicemail and use the Twitter hashtag #Egypt. These comments could be accessed without an Internet connection by dialing the same designated phone numbers. Those with Internet access could listen to the comments by visiting twitter.com/speak2tweet.

On February 2 connectivity was re-established by the four main Egyptian service providers.[10][11][12] A week later, the heavy filtering that occurred at the height of the revolution had ended.


Following the posting of an antisemitic and racists posts by anonymous users, Twitter removed those posts from its service. Lawsuits were filed by the Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), a French advocacy group and, on 24 January 2013, Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud ordered Twitter to divulge the personally identifiable information about the user who posted the antisemitic post, charging that the posts violated French laws against hate speech. Twitter responded by saying that it was "reviewing its options" regarding the French charges. Twitter was given two weeks to comply with the court order before daily fines of €1,000 (about US$1,300) would be assessed. Issues over jurisdiction arise, because Twitter has no offices nor employees within France, so it is unclear how a French court could sanction Twitter.[13][14][15]


Twitter accounts spoofing the Prime Minister of India such as PM0India, Indian-pm and PMOIndiaa were blocked in India in August 2012 following violence in Assam.[16]


In 2009, during 2009 Iranian presidential election, the Iranian government blocked Twitter due to fear of protests being organised.[17] In September 2013, the blocking of both Twitter and Facebook was briefly lifted without notice due to a technical error, however, within a day the sites were blocked again.[18]


In 2016, access to comments by the American blogger Richard Silverstein about a criminal investigation, which involved a minor and therefore was under a gag order according to Israeli law, was blocked to Israeli IP addresses, following a request by Israel's Ministry of Justice.[19][20]

North Korea

From April 2016, North Korea started to block Twitter, "in a move underscoring its concern with the spread of online information". Anyone trying to access it, such as foreign visitors, even with special permission from the North Korean government, will be subject to punishment.[21]


As of May 2014, Twitter regularly disables the ability to view specific "tweets" inside Pakistan, at the request of the government of Pakistan on the grounds that they are blasphemous, having done so five times in that month.[22]

On 25 November 2017, the NetBlocks internet shutdown observatory and Digital Rights Foundation collected evidence of nation-wide blocking of Twitter alongside other social media services, imposed by the government in response to the violent Tehreek-e-Labaik protests.[23][24][25] The technical investigation found that all major Pakistani fixed-line and mobile service providers were affected by the restrictions, which were lifted by the PTA the next day when protests abated following the resignation of Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid.[26]


On 19 May 2014, Twitter blocked a pro-Ukrainian political account for Russian users. It happened soon after, a Russian official had threatened to ban Twitter entirely if it refused to delete "tweets" that violated Russian law, according to the Russian news site Izvestia.[27]

On 27 July 2014, Twitter blocked an account belonging to a hacker collective that has leaked several internal Kremlin documents to the Internet.[28]

South Korea

In August 2010, the Government of South Korea tried to block certain content on Twitter due to the North Korean government opening a Twitter account.[29] The North Korean Twitter account created on August 12, uriminzok, loosely translated to mean "our people" in Korean, acquired over 4,500 followers in less than one week. On August 19, 2010, South Korea's state-run Communications Standards Commission banned the Twitter account for broadcasting "illegal information."[30] According to BBC US and Canada, experts claim that North Korea has invested in "information technology for more than 20 years" with knowledge of how to use social networking sites.[31] This appears to be "nothing new" for North Korea as the reclusive country has always published propaganda in its press, usually against South Korea, calling them "warmongers."[31] With only 36 "tweets", the Twitter account was able to accumulate almost 9,000 followers. To date, the South Korean Commission has banned 65 sites, including this Twitter account.[30]


On 21 March 2014, access to Twitter was blocked when a court ordered that "protection measures" be applied to the service. This followed earlier remarks by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who vowed to "wipe out Twitter" following damaging allegations of corruption in his inner circle.[32] However, on 27 March 2014, Istanbul Anatolia 18th Criminal Court of Peace suspended the above-mentioned court order. Turkey's constitutional court later ruled that the ban is illegal.[33] Two weeks after the Turkish government blocked the site, the Twitter ban was lifted.[34] On Sunday April 20, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, FAZ, reported Twitter had blocked two regime hostile accounts in Turkey, @Bascalan and @Haramzadeler333, both known for pointing out corruption.[35] In fact, on 26 March 2014, Twitter announced that it started to use its Country Withheld Content tool for the first time in Turkey.[36] As of June 2014, Twitter was withholding 14 accounts and "hundreds of tweets" in Turkey.[37] In the 11th biannual transparency report published on September 19, 2017, the social networking site said that Turkey was the first among countries where about 90 percent of removal requests came from.[38] Also, Turkey has submitted the highest volume of removal requests to Twitter on 2014,[39] 2015[40][41] and 2016.[40]

United Arab Emirates

In February 2015 three sisters from Abu Dhabi disappeared after being arrested by the Emirati authorities for tweeting "I miss my brother".[42] The three sisters are thought to have had no access to legal representation or their family.[43]

United Kingdom

Then-Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to shut down Twitter among other social networking sites for the duration of the 2011 England riots,[44] but no action was taken.

A Foreign Office tweet, dated 22 March 2018, was deleted sometime before 27 March. It said: "Analysis by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was a military-grade Novichok nerve agent produced in Russia."[45][46]


Twitter images were temporarily blocked in Venezuela in February 2014[47] along with other sites used to shares images including Pastebin.com as well as Zello, a walkie-talkie app.[48] In response to the block, Twitter offered Venezuelan users a workaround to use their accounts via text message on their mobile phones.[49]

See also


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  2. ^ Bamman, D; O'Connor, B; Smith, N (March 5, 2012). "Censorship and deletion practices in Chinese social media". First Monday. University of Illinois at Chicago. 17 (3). Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Chinese woman, Cheng Jianping, sentenced to a year in labor camp over Twitter post Aliyah Shahid, 2010 11 18, NY Daily News, 2010-11-18
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