By EDRi

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Twitter zensuriert Sarkozy-kritische Accounts | https://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_10.4_Twitter_zensuriert_Sarkozy-kritische_Accounts?pk_campaign=edri&pk_kwd=20120229]

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-Unfavorable-To-Nicolas-Sarkozy_a397.html

“#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-comptes-censures-et-la-reaction-de-l-equipe-de-campagne-de-Nicolas-Sarkozy_a402.html

French Presidential Election: Twitter Justifies A Liberticidal Procedure
(20.02.2012)
http://www.internetsansfrontieres.com/French-Presidential-Election-Twitter-Justifies-A-Liberticidal-Procedure_a401.html

Was @_NicolasSarkozy account a parody? (only in French, 20.02.2012)
http://kaboul.fr/politique/articles-politique/le-compte-nicolassarkozy-etait-il-parodique

Several anti-Sarkozy Twitter accounts closed down during the last days (only
in French, 20.02.2012)
http://www.numerama.com/magazine/21740-plusieurs-comptes-twitter-anti-sarkozy-fermes-ces-derniers-jours.html