On the 30th of December, the popular social network, Twitter, issued an update to their terms of service agreement. These changes are directed at preventing insults, threats and intimidation. Some of the networks’ users attest that there are errors in this new system that can result in the locking of practically any account, Radio Svoboda reported.
“The updated rules stress that Twitter will not allow the use of insults, intimidation and threats in order to force other people to be silent. As always, we support and welcome different opinions and beliefs. However, we will continue to take action on user accounts that cross the line,” the company’s report says.
The implementation of these new rules led to the blocking of many Ukrainian, pro-Ukrainian and anti-Putin accounts. The activity of the hash tag #stopdiscriminationofukraineontwi confirms the extent of the account blocks.
As it turns out, not only tweets that are threats to people or groups of people, but also those where there is the slightest indication of danger can be seen as contrary to the new rules. People who offend other people because of their beliefs, sexual orientation, colour or age, are subjected to blocking. But it seems that the new system does not function properly and allows for practically any account to be locked.
“It likely happens as a result of mass complaints on tweets that violate Twitter’s rules. Judging by the absence of an open coordination center, the search process for tweets that might violate the rules is carried out automatically through the use of bots,” Russian blogger, Kirill Mikhaylov wrote on his Facebook page.
Mikhailov explained that when his account was blocked for the first time, he needed to delete a few tweets that were determined to be a violation of the rules. In his tweets, he expressed a wish that pro-Kremlin trolls, who lied to the families of the victims killed aboard the MN17 flight, would die.
He claims that these tweets don’t contain intent to cause harm to other people. However, after these tweets were deleted and his account was unlocked, his account was blocked again because of old tweets.
The blogger believes that the problem is that complaints about tweets can be sent automatically by a large number of bots. These tweets aren’t filtered as the service doesn’t check whether the complaint was sent by a human or a bot. A Captcha code isn’t required to send a complaint.
Previously, the Facebook pages of Ukrainian bloggers were locked under similar circumstances. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, asked the co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, to open a Ukrainian division of the company in order to address locking accounts for political reasons. Zuckerberg refused to allow this but mass locking of Facebook accounts has ceased.