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Twitter to Censor Tweets Country By Country?

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Twitter announced Thursday that it now has the ability to selectively block tweets country by country.

A post, titled "Tweets still must flow," on the company's blog Thursday said that, until now, administrators at the micro-blogging site could only account for any one country's mandated limits on expression by removing content globally.  As of Thursday, Twitter now has the ability to "reactively withhold content from users in a specific country -- while keeping it available in the rest of the world," the blog post states.  The site also notes users can be notified when content is blocked and why.

Twitter explained that international growth means entering "countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression." For example, the company notes France and Germany's restriction on pro-Nazi content.

Though Twitter has not used this ability yet, but says it plans to maintain transparency with users by notifying them of blocked content and clearly identifying content that's been withheld.

Some of the site's users have already expressed their opposition to the decision's impact on freedom of expression.

"Say goodbye to your global twitter community," tweets the user @Steckel.

"All aboard the Censor Ship!" @YourAnonNews writes.

It should be noted that Twitter has been key to groups organizing some of the last year's biggest social and political events -- namely the London riots, the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring. Iran and Egypt both blocked the service in retaliation to the protests being organized via Twitter. The service also does not operate in China, but similar sites have become popular there.

Promoters of free speech are sure to be unhappy with the announcement. Still, Twitter maintains it will be true to user expression.

"One of our core values as a company is to defend and respect each user’s voice. We try to keep content up wherever and whenever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we can't. The Tweets must continue to flow," the company says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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