News and Commentary

‘We Strongly Condemn Internet Shutdowns’: Twitter Condemns Shutdown — In Uganda

"They are hugely harmful, violate basic human decency and the principles of the #OpenInternet."
Twitter logo displayed on a phone screen in Tehatta, Nadia, West Bengal, India on June 16, 2020. Twitter is launching two new features: The ability to save a tweet as a draft, as well as the ability to schedule a tweet to send at a specific time.
Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On Tuesday, after having permanently banned President Trump from its platform last week, suppressed the New York Post’s allegations about Hunter Biden last fall, and took actions recently that resulted in many conservative accounts reportedly losing thousands of followers, the Twitter account “Twitter Public Policy,” which represents the “voice of Twitter’s Global Public Policy team,” tweeted that Twitter was concerned about Internet service providers “being ordered to block social media and messaging apps” in Uganda prior to its election.

The account stated: “Ahead of the Ugandan election, we’re hearing reports that Internet service providers are being ordered to block social media and messaging apps. We strongly condemn internet shutdowns — they are hugely harmful, violate basic human decency and the principles of the #OpenInternet.”

“Earlier this week, in close coordination with our peers, we suspended a number of accounts targeting the election in Uganda,” the account acknowledged, adding, “If we can attribute any of this activity to state-backed actors, we will disclose to our archive of information operations.”

The account concluded, “Access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections.”

“Uganda shut down all social media in the country Tuesday after the country’s longtime leader accused Facebook of taking sides in the upcoming presidential election on Thursday,” the New York Post reported on Wednesday.

Twitter’s decision to ban President Trump from his personal account elicited criticism across the U.S. as well as overseas, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny both denounced the ban. Navalny stated:

In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and personal political preferences. Don’t tell me he was banned for violating Twitter rules. I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone (not that I ask for it). Among the people who have Twitter accounts are cold-blooded murderers (Putin or Maduro) and liars and thieves (Medvedev). For many years, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been used as a base for Putin’s ‘”troll factor” and similar groups from other authoritarian countries.

The Daily Wire reported on October 18:

The New York Post’s Twitter account has been suspended since Wednesday and now, Fox Business reports, Twitter has told the outlet that access will not be restored until the Post deletes certain Tweets referencing their Hunter Biden coverage. As The Daily Wire reported late last week, Twitter blocked users from posting or retweeting certain URLs associated with the Post’s coverage and then abruptly reversed course on the policy, pledging to “make changes to how it handles situations like this in the future” after widespread outcry and threat of a Congressional subpoena.

As far as conservative accounts losing followers, The Daily Wire reported on January 9:

Former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell has lost nearly 100,000 followers in the past few days, for example. Actor James Woods lost 15,000 followers in a day, while actress Kirstie Alley lost 9,000 followers. In a statement to The Washington Examiner, a Twitter spokesperson said this kind of purge was routine.

“As part of our work to protect the integrity of the conversation on Twitter, we regularly challenge accounts to confirm account details such as email and phone number,” the statement said. “Until the accounts confirm additional account information, they are in a locked state and do not count towards follower counts.”

Conservatives expressed their disbelief at Twitter’s concern over Uganda:

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘We Strongly Condemn Internet Shutdowns’: Twitter Condemns Shutdown — In Uganda