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.’“

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