Twitter CEO says blocking policy over-distilled

Jan 31, 2012 By RYAN NAKASHIMA , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- Twitter CEO Dick Costolo sought to calm the global outrage over the company's new country-by-country censorship policy on Monday, complaining in part that the issue is being treated with the same kind of shorthand that has made Twitter popular.

Speaking at the All Things D conference, Costolo repeated the company's for the policy change it announced last week: By taking down tweets only in the country where believes they may have violated local laws, it is making sure the maximum 140-character-long messages are still available to the rest of the world.

Twitter's reasoning has been mostly lost in a barrage of comments - many from Twitter users themselves - that the company is caving into attacks on , especially in countries with repressive regimes.

"It's a super complex issue," Costolo said. "When the news came out, people tried to distill it down to, `What did they just say?' It's easy to distill it down to `Twitter is endorsing XYZ.'"

"It takes a while for the scholars and the people who study these matters to weigh in and start to say, `Wait, this is actually a thoughtful and honest approach to doing this and it's in fact being done in a way that's forward-looking.' So we wait for that to happen," he added.

The complaint about knee-jerk responses to complex issues is somewhat ironic given that the company's meteoric growth has been fueled often by buzz-worthy but flippant comments.

Costolo also emphasized that if Twitter reacts to take-down requests, it will make public the reasons a is being removed. The company already has 45 people who respond to such requests, including those from copyright holders of music or movies in the United States.

He said the policy wouldn't affect its stance toward or , where the service is already blocked completely.

"I don't think the current environment in China is one in which we think we could operate," he said.

Costolo spoke just days before is expected to file the paperwork necessary for an initial public offering of stock, a move that is likely to make initial investors and employees in the company rich.

San Francisco-based Twitter also faces the same securities regulations that are forcing Facebook to go public - a rule that says companies with more than $10 million in assets and more than 500 shareholders of a certain class of stock must disclose their financial results and other details.

Twitter, which was founded in 2006, will bump up against the rule "at some point," Costolo said. But he added he would rather spend time building value at the company than dealing with such issues.

Explore further: Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

3 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Twitter launching photo-sharing service

Jun 01, 2011

Twitter said Wednesday that it is adding a photo-sharing option for its users, a move that could deal a blow to existing services such as Twitpic and yfrog.

Twitter has 'no plans' to sell or go public

Jan 08, 2011

Twitter, which has fended off several buyers, intends to remain an independent company and is not considering going public at the moment, chief executive Dick Costolo said.

Recommended for you

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

UN General Assembly OKs digital privacy resolution

Dec 18, 2014

The U.N. General Assembly has approved a resolution demanding better digital privacy protections for people around the world, another response to Edward Snowden's revelations about U.S. government spying.

Online privacy to remain thorny issue: survey

Dec 18, 2014

Online privacy will remain a thorny issue over the next decade, without a widely accepted system that balances user rights and personal data collection, a survey of experts showed Thursday.

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

caeman
5 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2012
Nice spin try, comrade Costolo. The honest truth is, in exchange for making sure your service is allowed in more countries, you will cave into that country's demands for tweets they deem "illegal" to be removed. Sure, remove tweets regarding REAL copyright problems, but the first time a tweet is removed that exposes an embarrassing truth about a foreign government...you've just aided in censorship.
Jotaf
not rated yet Jan 31, 2012
Reading the latest comments from the prime minister of India, you can be this form of censorship is not unique to Iran or China. It will be used at different levels of repression in many different countries.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.