Twitter's announcement to censor tweets in some countries with strict speech laws incited outcry on the internet, but there are ways to get around the new regulations.
The social networking site, noted for helping launch revolutions in repressive dictatorships in the Middle East, revealed it would comply with other countries' governments' laws by blocking tweets, sending notices to the user and publishing those notices on ChillingEffects.org.
Although Twitter said it has yet to implement the policy and it is unclear how strict and enforced it will be, the rules can be avoided if Twitter doesn't know where you're tweeting from.
That can be done by blocking your IP address our changing your country in account settings.
How to Do It
TheNextWeb.com provides useful instructions on how to change your country in order to avoid the censorship.
Twitter automatically guesses a user's location based on your computer's IP address. By going to your account settings (on Twitter default layout you can reach settings by clicking your name on the top-right corner of the screen), you can change your country (listed at the bottom of the page) to United States or another country that protects freedom of speech.
Although worldwide is an option users can select in the country drop-down menu, TheNextWeb.com reported it doesn't work and will automatically revert the user's country to that of the IP address.
Another way to avoid Twitter's censorship is to use a proxy. According to Tweepi.com, installing a proxy server, which blocks others from recognizing a user's IP address, will do the trick. But changing country setting is probably the easiest way.
If you'd like to be extra careful and block your IP address, you can go to a website-based proxy server or install one.
There are also browser configured proxy servers, which route your traffic through a machine that makes requests for pages on your behalf, like personal butler. They can cost money and be illegal in some countries-WhatisMyIPAddress.com has more information on using proxy servers.
Changing your country in account settings is probably the best way.
Why It Works
The biggest reason why it's simple to bypass Twitter's censorship regulations is because users are allowed to choose their country. Since the regulations are on a country-by-country basis, they can apply a specific government's laws on your tweets if they don't know where you live.
TheNextWeb.com notes that Twitter is probably very aware of the loophole.
Chances are that Twitter perfectly knows about this workaround, and its details are particularly well thought ... What's particularly clever is its ease of use, even in countries where technical workarounds may be difficult to access. Users won't need to hide their IP with a proxy: Twitter lets them change it manually, despite the potential loss in hyperlocal ad dollars for the platform.
Why Do It
Even if a tweet violates a country's laws, it can still be posted elsewhere. Twitter said it will put all removal requests it receives from governments or other entities on ChillingEffects.org, a resource center on online rights.
Also, the regulation allows Twitter to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country-while keeping it available to the rest of the world.
Still, bloggers and activists in China, the Middle East and Latin America are understandably worried about the new Twitter policies. China cracked down on those criticizing their government during the Arab Spring, and Twitter is already banned in the country.
Although there are ways to bypass the regulations, social media expert Jeff Jarvis worried it is a slippery slope of censorship, according to The Associated Press.
I understand why Twitter is doing this--they want to be able to enter more counties and deal with local laws. But, as Google learned in China, when you become the agent of the censor, there are problems there, he said.