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Turkey to censor tweets with 'malicious' content

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Twitter might not be banned in Turkey anymore, but the country's government isn't quite done putting it through the censorship wringer yet. In fact, Turkish Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan just released a written statement that says: "We [Twitter and Turkey] have reached a consensus to 'neutralize' malicious content that is the object of court decisions by pixelating." He didn't expound on what he means by "pixelating," but it's typically associated with the mosaic-like classic approach to censorship. If Turkish authorities can indeed blur out tweets, then this saga might have taken an even crazier turn. Since that's bordering on the absurd, though, it's possible that "pixelating" might have just been the term Lütfi used for Twitter's Country Withheld Tool, which the website uses to hide tweets and accounts from a whole nation.

The minister says the decision was made during back-to-back meetings between Turkey's telecommunication authority (called TIB) and Twitter's execs who've reached a consensus to "neutralize malicious content." Twitter also gave the TIB super-tagging powers (after deleting over 200 offending tweets, that is), allowing officials to flag posts and accounts that they want to be censored ASAP.

For those who haven't been following this crazed roller-coaster ride closely, it all started when Turkish authorities blocked access to Twitter hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to do so. Erdogan, who'd previously called social media "the worst menace to society," claimed his detractors were using the social network as a platform to spread lies that he was corrupt. A few days later, the ban was overturned after the country's court deemed it a violation of people's right to free speech, and just recently, Erdoğan vowed to go after Twitter for tax evasion. It's now unclear if he'll follow through, as the two entities have promised to "keep in touch," but let's not forget that the prime minister called Twitter a "scourge" once in the past.

[Image credit: Gupta-G/Twitter]

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