Brazil files for injunction against Twitter: users could be fined up to $291,000
Well here’s a story that could see Twitter’s reputation go from bad to worse, following the recent furore over their plans to censor tweets. The Brazilian government is about to put this to the test as they have filed for an injunction against Twitter to prevent their users from sharing information about police roadblocks and drunk-driving checkpoints.
Speaking on the injunction, Eva Galperin of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation said ”As far as we know this is the first time that a country has attempted to take Twitter up on their country-by-country take downâ€.
How Twitter responds to this request will heavily determine their public perception and possibly even the extent to which people want to use the site. A free media platform is one thing. One in which you experience censorship is quite another.
The injunction was filed on Monday and the result is expected over the next few days.
Is it justified?
Firstly, it should be made clear that this isn’t censorship for the sake of it, but officials in Brazil are claiming that tweets such as this would actually break laws in place. This complicates the situation as it’s not simply about blocking freedom of speech, but enforcing laws that all citizens of the area have to abide by.
This is why Twitter announced their censorship plans in the first place, to protect the site from contravening laws. When you look at it from this perspective, it is somewhat difficult to argue that Twitter don’t have a responsibility to remove these tweets, if the government are requesting it.
Add in the uncomfortable fact that there are 55,000 casualties each year in Brazil as a result of road traffic accidents and you can begin to see the Brazilian government’s point of view.
But consider the fact that anyone in breach of this, if the injunction goes ahead, could face a fine of up to $291,000. A pretty hefty sum for a tweet on a platform that up until now has not experienced censorship of this kind. This is a real test of social media’s relationship with local governments and the outcome of this case could set a very real precedent that impacts not just Twitter, but social networks in general.
So far, Twitter haven’t released a statement on the issue.