Did The Japanese Government Censor Twitter During Nuclear Plant Meltdown?

The Japanese government is denying that an online project to monitor “incorrect and inappropriate” information on Twitter and publish “correct” information is an attempt at online censorship.

JapanToday reports that accusations of censorship came to light on Friday, when details of a government contract surfaced. This contract was for the Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project, and called for a contractor who could monitor Twitter around the clock, discover inaccurate information, and publish the correct information on a website and Twitter account.

Specifically, this contractor would (emphasis added):

“…conduct research and analysis on incorrect and inappropriate information that would lead to false rumors and to report such Internet accounts to the agency…[and] publish correct information in question-an-answer format on the agency’s website and Twitter account…”

This does sound a little 1984-ish, with the contractor listening in on Twitter users and reporting those who are spreading “false rumors” to the government.

However, the government explains that this is just an attempt to monitor inaccurate information that might harm the residents of Fukushima, the area affected by March’s nuclear plant meltdown following the Japanese tsunami.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry told the AFP that the government would “never ask internet providers or web masters to delete such information or pin down the senders,” but that they would simply use their own website and Twitter account to publish the accurate information.

So what do you think? Is this a form of government censorship? Or is it more akin to brand management in the fast-paced days of social media? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!