Posted on October 19, 2012

In World First, Twitter Blocks Neo-Nazi Account in Germany

Sharin Gaudin, ComputerWorld, October 18, 2012

Using its country-specific content-blocking tool for the first time, Twitter has shut down access to a neo-Nazi group’s account in Germany.

“Never want to withhold content; good to have tools to do it narrowly & transparently,” Alex Macgillivray, Twitter’s general counsel, tweeted last night. “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.”

Dirk Hensen, a spokesman for Twitter, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the account @hannoverticker has been blocked only in Germany, where its content is considered illegal.

Twitter’s content-blocking tool is designed to enable the micro-blogging site to remove illegal content in a particular country, while allowing it to remain available for everyone else.

According to AP, the @hannoverticker account is used by a far-right fringe group — Besseres Hannover — which officials from the German state of Lower Saxony banned last month, saying it promotes Nazi ideals in an attempt to undermine Germany’s democracy.

Lower Saxony officials sent Twitter a letter, which the site posted, asking the site to “close this account immediately and not to open any substitute accounts for the organisation ‘Besseres Hannover.’“