To help the public better understand the scope and scale of government censorship from around the world, Twitter has updated its transparency tool to tell its users the legal compulsions behind blocking of some tweets and accounts on its platform.
"We are updating our in-product messaging when we withhold content to clarify why the content was withheld and where," Jeremy Kessel, Global Legal Policy Director at Twitter wrote in a blog post.
So when a tweet is withheld, users would now know if Twitter was compelled to withhold the original tweet in response to a valid legal demand, such as a court order.
They would also know if Twitter withheld the content to comply with the local law(s).
Similar notification will be available for withheld accounts as well.
To shine light on government requests, Twitter launched its "Transparency Report" back in 2012 and later that year, it announced the "Country Withheld Content" (CWC) tool, which the microblogging site uses to transparently handle global legal requests to remove content from Twitter.
"The primary goal of CWC is to avoid silent removals and maximise transparency of the content that we are compelled to remove to comply with local laws, court orders, and other legal demands," Kessel said.
Twitter achieves this transparency through a combination of efforts. This includes providing direct notice of removal requests to affected users (when not otherwise prohibited), the use of visual indicators within the service, and by publishing the underlying legal demands on Lumen, which serves as a public repository for content removal requests.
One example of CWC is Nazi symbols in Germany, where they are prohibited, TechCrunch reported on Thursday.
Twitter said the latest update is part of its larger efforts to increase transparency across the platform, particularly around decisions that impact its users.
"We are also working on improving our use of in-app notifications to alert affected users when we have received legal requests about their account," Kessel said.
"Our goal is to help you better understand why you may not be able to view certain types of content as you interact with our service," he added.