Twitter protects freedom of speech and privacy of users

When LulzSec member Sabu recently answered a lot of questions on an impromptu Q&A session on Reddit by posting the answers on his Twitter account, he was asked why he trusted Twitter more than Reddit.

“Because believe it or not Twitter has not been sleeping in bed with LEAs (law enforcement agencies). In fact its a process to get account info,” he replied. “And that is a major difference between Twitter and other social mediums. They respect privacy.”

The claim was echoed at the recently held Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who pointed out that Twitter would always try to warn its users when a government requests it to hand over information tied to their account, even though most of the time they are ordered not to disclose the existence of such a request.

In fact, there’s a recent example that confirms these claims. When the U.S. Government ordered Twitter to hand over IP addresses, session logs and account info tied to four accounts of WikiLeaks members and supporters, the company has fought (and won) in court for the right to disclose the existence of the requests to the owners of those accounts, so that they might fight them.

But Twitter is not only intent on fighting for the right of privacy for its users, but for their right to free speech, The Telegraph reports.

When the UK riots threatened to escalate even further, and after if has been established that the rioters are effectively using social networks for coordinating their actions, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron talked about publicly about the possibility of shutting down the social networks and BlackBerry’s messaging service in order to impede the rioters’ communication.

Costolo said that when he and other Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry executives were summoned to a meeting with the UK Home Secretary regarding that particular possibility, he insisted that the majority of the tweets were more about organizing cleans ups rather than inciting violence.

In the end, the plan to shut down those services wasn’t realized, probably because there wasn’t a general consensus in the government about it and because the legality of such an action was heavily disputed.

“One of our core values is respect and the need to defend the user’s voice,” reiterated Costolo. “We are the free speech wing of the free speech party.”

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