Twitter is dealing with a stumbling block to its international expansion by implementing the ability to censor content from users based on their country. It’s a dangerous balancing act but one the company obviously feels required to do.

The microblogging service said it has not used this capability yet, and assured users that it will never do so voluntarily. It also said that it will mark when content has been blocked, and it will attempt to let the user know about the redaction.

“As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression,” Twitter said in a blog post. “Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.”

Twitter already shares information with when it pulls a tweet following receipt of a cease and desist letter, which overwhelmingly allege copyright violations. Twitter has now worked with the organization to create its own dedicated page to document when and why it censors tweets.

Related links:

BBC News – Twitter to selectively ‘censor’ tweets by country

Reuters – Twitter to restrict user content in some countries

Associated Press – Twitter may censor tweets in individual countries

CNN – Twitter to delete posts if countries request it

Aljazeera – Twitter to enable country-specific censorship

RT Network – Freedom fears over Twitter’s by-country ‘censorship’

Image by Flickr user Rosaura Ochoa, used under Creative Commons license