Centre for Internet & Society

Twitter users woke up on Saturday to find several accounts suspended for unknown reasons, triggering conspiracy theories that only the accounts of right-wing supporters had been targeted.

The article by Vasudha Venugopal was published in the Economic Times on November 2, 2014. Pranesh Prakash gave his inputs.

While it was said to have resulted from a technical glitch that suspended random accounts, several tweeters said there was a pattern to the suspension because 'suspended users' were asked to change their behaviour to be able to continue using the micro-blogging site. But by afternoon it was clear that many accounts, irrespective of their posts, had been suspended for a few hours. All suspended accounts were restored by afternoon.

A message sent out to a tweeter whose account was suspended read, "Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts in bulk.
Unfortunately, your account got caught in one of these spam groups by mistake." Twitter also apologised for the inconvenience but added, "It is possible your account posted an update that appeared to be spam, so please be careful what you tweet... You will need to change your behaviour to continue using Twitter. Repeat violations of the Twitter rules may result in the permanent suspension of your account."
This triggered outrage among the Twitteratti who called it internet policing. There was humour too, with a tweeter posting, "In the Twitter canteen you never get chicken wings in pairs because the right wing is blocked."

Twitter officials said there was no deliberate blocking of accounts and that the incident was an accident as part of spam cleaning process. Pranesh Prakash, policy director, Centre for Internet and Society, said though there have been instances of 'privatisation of censorship' in the recent past, this incident did not look like one such attempt. "It doesn't look deliberate especially because even accounts such as eBay India were suspended."