Twitter claims ‘several errors’ led to suspending accounts for violating new privacy rule

Social media giant Twitter said Friday the platform mistakenly suspended accounts after a raft of “coordinated and malicious reports” aimed at journalists and anti-extremism researchers under a new policy enacted last week.

The company noted that it corrected its mistakes ahead of an internal probe to ensure that the new policy, which allows anyone whose photo or video was posted without their consent to request it be removed, is being “used as intended,” the Washington Post reported.

Not long after the new policy was announced on Tuesday, “a group of far-right activists and white supremacists began urging their followers to file reports against accounts that are used to identify neo-Nazis, monitor extremists and document the attendees of hate rallies,” the Post reported.

Twitter spokesman Trenton Kennedy said in a Friday statement that the platform was overwhelmed by a “significant amount” of malicious reports leading to “enforcement teams” making “several errors” following those reports.

The spokesman did not provide any details regarding the number of reports that had been filed but did say that “a dozen erroneous suspensions” took place.

“We’ll have more to share on the review later,” Kennedy added, according to the Post.

In announcing the policy earlier this week, Twitter officials said it is aimed at preventing “the misuse of media to harass or intimidate private individuals.” In addition, the platform said there would be exceptions made in instances where photos and videos are deemed to contribute “value to public discourse,” which has led critics to claim the left-wing company will arbitrarily enforce the rule against political opponents, which conservatives have complained about for years.

The Post noted that some of the suspended accounts, including one reported by the paper that Twitter officials said was made by mistake, involved public photos of people deemed to be newsworthy.

Others have criticized the policy’s vague wording including so-called researchers who have argued it could bar the use of the platform by amateur reporters and “open-source” investigators who have pursued “members of hate groups and suspected rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6,” the Post added.

Twitter also noted that the new policy attempts to extend “right to privacy” protections, as have some nations, to accounts around the world. But Kennedy said that the change won’t apply to “public figures or individuals who are a part of public conversations and discourse online or offline.”

The Post reported that as of Friday, it was not clear if all of the suspended accounts had been reinstated. Some of those who frequently track conservative activists told the paper their accounts remained locked.

The new policy came as Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey announced he was stepping down this week and was being succeeded by Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal.

“Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm,” Twitter noted in a blog post on Tuesday.

“The misuse of private media can affect everyone, but can have a disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities.”

Jon Dougherty


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