Twitter has apologised for taking down accounts critical of the Chinese government just days ahead of the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
The micro-blogging site wrote on its public policy feed that the suspended accounts were swept up in a weekly effort to crack down on “spam and other inauthentic behaviours”.
“Sometimes our routine actions catch false positives or we make errors. We apologise.”
The company added that the suspended accounts had not been reported by the Chinese government, CNN reported.
The suspension of the accounts, both inside and outside China, elicited criticism from US Senator Marco Rubio, who tweeted the company was silencing voices on behalf of the Chinese government.
“Twitter has apparently suspended a large number of accounts that are critical of #China including accounts of people outside of China. Twitter has become a Chinese govt censor,” he said, the report added.
The crackdown on the accounts, which came on May 31 and June 1, left many users bitter because it came ahead of the anniversary of the bloody June 4 clash between government forces and pro-democracy protestors at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the Business Insider reported. (IANS)
"These are constantly evolving challenges and we'll keep our policies and approach under advisement, particularly as we learn more about the relationship between Tweets from world leaders and the potential for offline harm," it added
Stating that world leaders are not above its policies “entirely,” Twitter has decided to restrict how users can interact with harmful tweets from world leaders who break its rules, but did not clarify whether it will remove or block the world leader like US President Donald Trump from doing so.
The micro-blogging platform said it will not allow users to like, reply, share or retweet offending posts from world leaders.
“You will not be able to like, reply, share, or Retweet the Tweet in question. You will still be able to express your opinion with Retweet with Comment,” the company said on Tuesday.
“Our goal is to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially. In doing so, we aim to provide direct insight into our enforcement decision-making, to serve public conversation, and protect the public’s right to hear from their leaders and to hold them to account,” it added.
Twitter has been facing pressure to take action against US President Donald Trump for posting controversial tweets, but the micro-blogging platform has been evading action.
Earlier this month, California Senator Kamala Harris, who is a 2020 Democrat presidential candidate, asked Twitter to suspend Trump’s account for attacking lawmakers and the whistleblower behind a complaint on his shady dealings with Ukraine.
“Trump’s Twitter account should be suspended. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that he is irresponsible with his words in a way that could result in harm as the privilege of using those words in that way should probably be taken from him,” Harris told CNN.
Trump has repeatedly used Twitter to attack his political opponents.
In a series of tweets, he said that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff should be arrested for treason for exaggerating parts of phone call Trump had with Zelensky.
If a tweet from a world leader does violate its rules, but there is a clear public interest value to keeping the Tweet on the service, the company said on Tuesday that it “may place it behind a notice that provides context about the violation and allows people to click through should they wish to see the content”.
“With critical elections and shifting political dynamics around the world, we recognise that we’re operating in an increasingly complex and polarised political culture,” said Twitter.
“These are constantly evolving challenges and we’ll keep our policies and approach under advisement, particularly as we learn more about the relationship between Tweets from world leaders and the potential for offline harm,” it added. (IANS)