The Twitter policy that could temporarily censor each of your tweets
On Tuesday, a prominent Palestinian-American journalist who reported live on protests near Jerusalem was suddenly and mysteriously silenced on Twitter – with each tweet replaced with the message “@ MariamBarghouti’s account is temporarily unavailable because it violates the Twitter media policy ”. It was a mistake, the company quickly admitted, and its tweets were quickly restored.
But it turns out that part of the incident was do not a mistake. While Twitter may have mistakenly acted on this person’s account, there is actually a specific situation where Twitter reserves the right to have your tweets disappear. And – if you ask me – that’s great, super stupid.
I’ve been on Twitter which is like my whole life and never saw what they do on behalf of this Palestinian journalist pic.twitter.com/z6bSmLCvNn
– Casey Johnston (@caseyjohnston) May 11, 2021
Twitter told me this page and this specific image as an example of politics, which seems to be able to date back to October 2017:
There, the “Require media or profile changes” policy reads: “If an account’s profile or media content does not comply with our policies, we may make it temporarily unavailable and require that the offender modifies the media or their profile information to comply with our rules. We also explain what policy their profile or media content has violated. “
Or, in plain English, if your profile picture, header image, or any other image you post doesn’t meet Twitter standards, Twitter won’t just censor that image – it may censor your entire image. counts until you correct it.
Why would Twitter need to tell people of a bad image on every tweet from an author, instead of just omitting the image and maybe providing an explanation? Over the past few years, we’ve seen countless instances of Twitter choosing to place warning labels near offensive and harmful content, labels that still make it easy for people to see these tweets.
When I raised this issue, a Twitter spokesperson only said that the policy is designed to “better inform people about actions taken by Twitter.” The company declined to say more.
The most generous explanation I can find is that this is an old and outdated policy that should have been withdrawn long ago.
Twitter also initially limited Barghouti’s ability to tweet, retweet, follow and like for 12 hours, according to screenshots she provided to The edge. It’s unclear why her account was mistakenly censored to begin with; Twitter couldn’t immediately tell if this was human action or an automated system.