The additional flexibility is likely to raise fears that Twitter's commitment to free speech may be weakening. — Photo by AP

SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter has refined its technology so it can censor messages on a country-by-country basis.

The additional flexibility is likely to raise fears that Twitter's commitment to free speech may be weakening.

It comes as the short-messaging company 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.

Twitter will post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is removed.

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