Twitter uses new 'country-withheld content' rule to block neo-Nazi group tweets in Germany

First time the website has withheld content in a specific country

The social media site Twitter has blocked posts from a neo-Nazi group from view in Germany at the request of the local authorities, in the site's first ever instance of country specific censorship.

A spokesman said that the account @hannoverticker, which belongs to the far-right group Besseres Hannover (Better Hanover) was blocked in Germany, where its content is considered illegal. Users in other countries, however, are still free to read it.

While Twitter is known to be reluctant to censor content for fear of scaring away users, the move has prompted criticism of the German law under which the group is banned, rather than the social media site.

"Twitter is a private company, and while it has a decent record on free speech, it cannot be expected to go to the barricade for every issue. Moreover, Germany is a huge and wealthy market," said Pádraig Reidy of Index on Censorship.

He added: "Twitter has complied with the law, and been open about it. The German law itself is where the problem lies. Banning far-right views and Nazi-inspired historical revisionism is anachronistic for a modern liberal democracy. And these laws are persistently pointed to and mocked when the EU attempts to lecture the world on free speech."

Besseres Hannover was banned by Lower Saxony's state government last month on the grounds that it was promoting Nazi ideals in an attempt to undermine German's democracy.

The account is invisible to German internet browsers but remains visible elsewhere. Twitter announced the news today morning on its own site.

Twitter has little choice when ordered to comply with local laws. Its country specific blocking is an attempt to limit any damage done in the minds of those who would rather see the site place freedom of speech above local censorship laws.

Its lawyer Alex Macgillivray wrote: "Never want to withhold content; good to have tools to do it narrowly & transparently."

He later posted a message which read: "We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We're using it now for the first time re: a group deemed illegal in Germany."

In a post on its site, the company wrote: "if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.

"We have found that transparency is vital to freedom of expression… And, we have expanded our partnership with Chilling Effects to publish not only DMCA notifications but also requests to withhold content -- unless, similar to our practice of notifying users, we are legally prohibited from doing so.

"We strongly believe that the open and free exchange of information has a positive global impact, and that the Tweets must continue to flow."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Voices
voicesBryony Beynon: This is something every woman can relate to
Arts and Entertainment
film

News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is reported to be in final negotiations to play Doctor Strange for Marvel although the casting has not yet been confirmed
film
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Life and Style
fashion

World Beard and Moustache Championships held last week

News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Copycat culture: the Chateau Zhang Laffitte in China, top, and the building which inspired it, in Paris, bottom
architectureReplicas of Western landmarks are springing up in unlikely places
Sport
Rolando Aarons watches as his effort finds the corner of the Manchester City goal to give Newcastle the lead
footballManchester City 0 Newcastle 2: Holders crash out on home turf
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Inside Sales Manager – SaaS based solutions

    25-30k + Comms + Benefits: Sphere Digital Recruitment: A rapidly expanding tag...

    2nd Line server support

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...

    Project Manager - Contract - Procurement & Online Portal Project

    £330 - £430 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - Birmin...

    Creative Designer

    Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Creative Designer is needed to join an idea...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

    "I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
    Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

    11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

    Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
    Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

    Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

    The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
    Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

    The school that means business

    Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
    10 best tablets

    The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

    They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
    Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

    Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

    The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
    Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

    Pete Jenson's a Different League

    Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
    John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
    The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

    The killer instinct

    Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
    Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

    Clothing the gap

    A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain