Twitter users across the world have threatened to go on a one-day boycott after the micro blogging website announced that it could remove tweets in certain countries which have “different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression”.
After years of promoting itself as a champion of free expression on the internet, Twitter said that it would block certain messages if governments or organisations complain about individual tweets.
The site insisted that it would not use the gagging system in a blanket fashion, but would apply it on a case-by-case basis.
But the reassurance was not enough to prevent outrage from twitter users and freedom of speech campaigners, The Guardian reports.
Jeff Jarvis, a media commentator, said the move set Twitter onto the “slippery slope of censorship”.
“I understand why Twitter is doing this, they want to be able to enter more countries and deal with the local laws. But, as Google learned in China, when you become the agent of the censor, there are problems there,” he said.
Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist and dissident, said: “if Twitter starts censoring, I''ll stop tweeting”.
Other critical tweets showed the blue bird with a red cross or black strip over its beak.
“Twitter punctured the silence with its beak, and now it has provoked the tyrants to take revenge,” one tweet read.
Twitter’s announcement came a day after the first anniversary of the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt, in which the micro blogging site played a major role in drawing particular criticism from Middle Eastern users.