Many regard this declaration of adapting to local censorship laws as a pragmatic move as Twitter expands into an increasing number of countries. As the blog post said, “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression.”
It is important for it to respect the cultures and ideas of different countries so as to blend into local environments harmoniously. This is normal practice. To some extent, it is a necessary step in the evolution of Twitter. But many of its users, particularly some political activists and dissidents, have found it unacceptable.
It is impossible to have boundless freedom, even on the Internet and even in countries that make freedom their main selling point.
The announcement of Twitter might have shown that it has already realized the fact and made a choice between being an idealistic political tool as many hope and following pragmatic commercial rules as a company.
While the editorial may have been expected, the appearance on Twitter of Mr. Hu, a staunch defender of China’s need to censor the Internet, was something of a surprise. A number of China-based Twitter users, including long-time Chinese media watcher Jeremy Goldkorn, immediately questioned what Internet proxy the Global Times editor had used to access the service.
Mr. Hu faced additional questions from Twitter users, including whether the account was real and what he thought of the use of guns in putting down recent protests by Tibetans.
The editor didn’t immediately answer those questions, but he did offer a job description: “I regard my work as reporting a complicated China and commenting on a complicated world,” he wrote in English.
Reached Monday afternoon, a man surnamed Yin and identifying himself as Global Times’s office director confirmed to China Real Time that the account was real but said Mr. Hu was in meetings and therefore not available to offer details about how or why he started using Twitter.
See also “Inside China’s Censorship Machine” via CDT.