The popular microblogging service Twitter has announced it has new technology enabling it to censor messages on a country-by-country basis in order to follow a range of laws around the world.
The U.S.-based company announced on its blog this week that it has not yet used the technology, but that if it does, a message will appear to the user saying the Twitter posting -- known as a "tweet" -- has been removed in order to comply with the law of the country in which the user is operating.
The approach is in stark contrast to a statement Twitter made a year ago called "The Tweets Must Flow," promising not to censor Twitter messages as they helped foment anti-government movements in a number of Middle Eastern countries.
Twitter did not give a reason for the change, except to say that as it grows internationally, it is entering countries that have different ideas about the limits of freedom of expression. It said the laws are such that it cannot exist in some countries at all, while other nations have similar laws to the U.S. but restrictions on certain topics.
It gave the examples of France and Germany, where pro-Nazi speech is banned. While Twitter did not list other nations specifically, another example could be Thailand, where it is illegal to speak ill of the monarchy.
Twitter does not operate in some countries that strictly control media content, such as China.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.