twitter-logoTwitter has refined its technology so it can censor messages on a country-by-country basis.

The additional flexibility is likely to raise fears that the short-messaging company’s commitment to free speech may be weakening.

It comes as it expands into new countries in an attempt to broaden its audience and make more money.

But Twitter sees the censorship tool as a way to ensure individual messages, or ‘tweets,’ remain available to as many people as possible while it navigates a maze of different laws around the world.

Before, when Twitter erased a tweet it disappeared throughout the world. Now, a tweets containing content breaking a law in one country can be taken down there and still be seen elsewhere.

‘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 said.

China, notably, blocks Twitter, a situation which Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey described recently as ‘unfortunate and disappointing.’

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