Twitter accused of censoring Sarkozy parody accounts

Twitter accused of censoring Sarkozy parody accounts

Summary: 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.

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TOPICS: Telcos
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Twitter is facing accusations of censorship in France after it reportedly took down four user accounts for impersonating French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Nicholas 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

The digital rights group Internet Without Borders (Internet Sans Frontières) said on Sunday that the accounts were taken down after an account for the real Sarkozy went live on Wednesday, the day on which he officially announced his candidacy for re-election — voting will take place in April and May.

The four accounts that Twitter suspended were, according to Internet Without Borders, all clear parodies and caricatures of Sarkozy, rather than genuine attempts at impersonation.

"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.

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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