The Twitter Blackout: Tweeters protest by refusing to tweet

Perhaps inspired by the recent Wikipedia and Google blackouts, Tweeters everywhere are holding a day of Twitter silence to protest “censorship”

HOUSTON, TX – January 28, 2012 – In a melodramatic attempt to protest censorship, Twitter users everywhere are refusing to tweet. In fact, it’s a full scale Twitter boycott, and the hashtag #TwitterBlackout is getting lots of attention. The funny thing is, that there’s really nothing to protest. You know those little kids that hold their breath when they’re angry? Well, sometimes adults like to throw fits too, and frankly, that’s a little (or maybe a lot) what this protest looks like. Confused? Keep reading.

On Thursday, Twitter announced:

“As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content. Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally.”

In other words, offensive Nazi propaganda and hate speech were once banned by Twitter on a global level – not because Twitter is sympathetic towards our Jewish brothers and sisters – but because France and Germany take issue with white supremacist bile.

Now however, Twitter says:

“Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world.”

So now, on Twitter, white-supremest Nazi’s can freely spew their racist, violent, belligerent filth. Hooray for freedom of speech! The only people who won’t see it are our friends in Germany and France, who, “for historical or cultural reasons,” get offended by that sort of thing. Nevermind the millions of Jews in America who deserve our respect and the dignity afforded to them by our constitution. One wonders if Tweeters aren’t protesting the wrong issue. 

“Wait!” You’re probably thinking, “I thought this blackout was to protest censorship? It sounds more like Twitter is actually lifting restrictions in some countries.” 

You learn quickly young grasshopper. Apparently the Tweeper Protesters can’t get it through their noggins that Twitter already censors things like erotic content, phishing scams, child porn, and (until recently) Nazi hate speech. Now they’re lifting select restrictions and letting freedom ring! So going forward, people all over America – old and young, black and white, rich and poor – will get to hear what the creepy skinhead with the swastika tattoo really has to say.

Thank you Twitter. Thank you so much.

Twitter updated their statement yesterday:

“In short, we believe the new, more granular approach to withheld content is a good thing for freedom of expression, transparency, accountability— and for our users. Besides allowing us to keep Tweets available in more places, it also allows users to see whether we are living up to our freedom of expression ideal.”

While some people are quite upset by the idea that Twitter is blocking particular tweets from certain countries, the fact is that before, those tweets were blocked to the whole world. So technically, Twitter is installing a policy of less censorship.

The irony that people are protesting censorship against a company that is in fact lowering their censorship policies seems to be lost on most, and the resulting hullabaloo is really quite comical.

While this author does confess to being an avid Tweeter, there are apparently many, many Tweeps who lack the capacity to understand anything over 140 characters. Subsequently, Twitter’s blog entry (which is a whopping 614 words containing a dizzying 3,460 characters) did nothing but confuse and enrage them.

One wonders how they’ll interpret this article.

Tip for Twitter Protesters: This article contains 4,644 characters. That’s a lot. To ease comprehensibility, it may help to break it down into 33 sets of 140 character tweets, and retweet (preferably out loud to yourself) where applicable.

What do you think? Please post your comments below. 

About Jennifer Grassman:
Singer, songwriter and pianist, Jennifer Grassman is an award-winning recording artist based in Houston, Texas. Subscribe by RSS feed and read more from Jennifer You can follow Jennifer on @Jgrassman

When quoting this story, please credit, “Jennifer Grassman Communities @Washington” Thank you!


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Jennifer Grassman

Jennifer Grassman is a singer, songstress and pianist who inadvertently became a music industry trailblazer in the wake of the digital revolution. In addition to penning her quirky music industry column, "The Business of Being Diva," Jennifer writes songs and performs concert tours. Jennifer’s accomplishments include being nominated Houston’s best female vocalist and best songwriter and was named best keyboardist in the 2010 Houston Press Music Awards. She assisted in a campaign that raised more than $100,000 for CrimeStoppers and was commended by musician Tori Amos for her charitable efforts on behalf of domestic-abuse victims.  Jennifer has released three CDs, the most recent of which, "Serpent Tales & Nightingales," received accolades from Christianity Today, the Houston Chronicle and Brian Ray and the guitarist of Paul McCartney's band. You can check out Jennifer’s music at, like her on Facebook and tweet her at

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