Twitter is facing accusations of censorship in France after it reportedly took down four user accounts for impersonating French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Twitter is facing accusations of censorship in France after it reportedly took down four user accounts for impersonating French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Image credit: Downing Street/Flickr
"This obvious censorship, operated by the largest microblogging social network a few hours after an official account of Nicolas Sarkozy was created, worries Internet Without Borders and the community of online freedom of expression in France," the group said. "The creation of an official account of Nicolas Sarkozy on this space should in no way mean killing all of Twitter accounts that criticise or parody the campaign or the person of President of the Republic."
Twitter has clear guidelines on parody accounts, which it allows as long as they do not actually try to deceive other Twitter users into thinking they represent the person being parodied.
However, Twitter says it does not actively monitor accounts. Generally, accounts are only suspended after a complaint is made to the microblogging service.
The online publication kaboul.fr, which managed the suspended @_nicolassarkozy account, noted on Monday that the form Twitter provides for impersonation cases only allows takedown requests from the person being impersonated, authorised representatives and "friends or fans" of the supposed victim. It said this suggested the account was suspended at the request of Sarkozy's camp.
The publication also published its letter to Twitter that followed the suspension, in which it pointed out that the fake Sarkozy account had been a clear parody. Kaboul.fr also highlighted the fact that it had operated the account for a year and a half without complaint — until Sarkozy started his campaign.