Twitter blocks neo-Nazi tweets in Germany
It is the first time Twitter has used a new system that enables it to censor tweets in specific countries.
The account is run by the extreme right-wing group Besseres Hannover, which has been outlawed under Germany’s strict anti-Nazi laws. The tweets remain available everywhere else.
Twitter’s chief lawyer, Alex Macgillivray, said in a tweet that the firm would “never want to withhold content”, but that it was “good to have tools to do it narrowly and transparently”.
He linked to an online copy of the request to block Besseres Hannover’s account from authorities in Lower-Saxony, posted by Twitter on the Chilling Effects website.
“The enclosed letter gives you the information that the Ministry of the Interior of the State of Lower-Saxony in Germany has banned the organisation ‘Besseres Hannover’,” it said.
“It is disbanded, its assets are seized and all its accounts in social networks have to be closed immediately.
“I ask you to close this account immediately and not to open any substitute accounts for the organisation ‘Besseres Hannover’.”
Last month police in Hanover raided and arrested more than 20 members of the group on suspicion of forming a criminal organisation. Besseres Hannover is accused of threatening immigrant and distributing neo-Nazi newspapers at schools.
Twitter announced in January that it had put in place systems to censor tweets in specific countries in response to lawful requests. It said it would inform members when material is blocked and why, having previously insisted “the tweets must flow” irrespective of their content.
Besseres Hannover has not tweeted since the raids in September.