Twitter censors unfavourable Sarkozy accounts
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Deutsch: Twitter zensuriert Sarkozy-kritische Accounts
Between 16 and 18 February 2012, in a surprising and first dangerous precedent in France, the social network Twitter suspended four accounts of users who were posting parody and caricature statements related to President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Only two months from the French presidency election, and after the creation on 15 February of an official account of the current French president on this space, the obvious censorship applied by Twitter at the express request of Sarkozy's team (at least for one of the accounts on alleged impersonation), and Sarkozy's party (Union for Popular Movement) is extremely worrying. The answers provided by the company regarding the suspension reasons are unclear and in breach of the specific terms and conditions of the platform, its practices regarding parody accounts as well as the laws in force in France to protect the plurality of online expression.
A day after the creation of the Sarkozy's official account prepared for the upcoming presidential elections, Twitter censored the account @_nicolassarkozy, a parody that existed since September 2010. According to the network, the account violated the policy of twitter on the prevention of impersonation: "We have received a valid report that your account, @_NicolasSarkozy, is engaged in nonparody impersonation. Although Twitter firmly believes in the freedom of expression, impersonation that misleads, confuses, or deceives others is against the Twitter Rules."
However, according to the archives, the account fully respected the terms of its contract with the platform and the requirement that a parodic or caricature account had to include the nature of the parody in its title. It also included a statement on the account that explained that it was being operated in parody. Twitter may also realize a certain account has a parodic or caricature character based on its biography and content.
Internet Without Borders said that the other three suspended accounts had criticised or mocked Sarkozy's campaign, but did not do so against Twitter's rules. "These accounts did not include the name of Nicolas Sarkozy but criticized or mocked his campaign. For Internet Without Borders, this is an unacceptable censorship, in violation of the same general conditions of use of Twitter that grant the user a right on his content," the group said.
Besides, the case of these French accounts is singular as Twitter has not taken any such measures with parodic or caricatural accounts addressed to other French politicians.
Another issue of concern is that Twitter does not include in its procedures the possibility for an account user to defend him(her)self against the suspension decision.
Twitter Censors Accounts Unfavorable To Nicolas Sarkozy (19.02.2012) http://www.internetsansfrontieres.com/Twitter-Censors-Accounts-Unfavor...
"#sarkocensure": The archives of the censured accounts and the reaction of Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign team (only in French, 21.02.2012) http://www.internetsansfrontieres.com/sarkocensure-Les-archives-des-co...
French Presidential Election: Twitter Justifies A Liberticidal Procedure
Was @_NicolasSarkozy account a parody? (only in French, 20.02.2012)
Several anti-Sarkozy Twitter accounts closed down during the last days (only
in French, 20.02.2012)