Free Speech

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
abuse, darthputinkgb, parody, russia, vladimir putin

Companies:
twitter



Twitter Bans Obvious Putin Parody Account, Retreats After International Shaming

from the artificially-outraged dept

Twitter is getting the wrong kind of attention this week for its decision to ban a number of Russian parody accounts before the global internet shamed the company into restoring them. The @DarthPutinKGB account, which before it was deleted had more than 50,000 followers, was struck down mercilessly by the Twitter ban hammer on Tuesday. The account deletion came alongside a flurry of Twitter bans on several such accounts, including one making fun of Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko -- and @SovietSergey, an account poking fun at Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Twitter's move was quickly derided on the social networking platform and Internet at large, with users offering up their greatest hits from the temporarily-deceased parody account under the #NoGulagForDarthPutinKGB hashtag. Even Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves took some time out to highlight the stupidity of Twitter's decision:
Twitter's move comes as Putin himself has increasingly relied on Russian propaganda to defend the country's aggressively homophobic laws and its recent not-so-subtle invasion of the Ukraine. Many of these employed trolls remain happily Tweeting -- as it's hard to differentiate them from the din of ordinary internet racism, homophobia, political infighting and stupidity, which is obviously quite by design. It's very likely that's Putin's professional internet trolls and bots played more than a small role in inundating Twitter with requests to have the accounts banned.

But Twitter's response to media inquiries was initially notably sterile, the company only directing users to Twitter's two primary conditions for parody accounts:
"Bio: The bio should indicate that the user is not affiliated with the account subject by stating a word such as "parody," "fake," "fan," or "commentary," and be done so in a way that would be understood by the intended audience.

Account name: The name should not be the exact name of the account subject without some other distinguishing word, such as "not," "fake," or "fan," and be done so in a way that would be understood by the intended audience."
An archived copy of the account indicates it did use the word parody in the byline, just apparently not clearly enough for the parody police at Twitter's support department:
So the ban was somewhat consistent with Twitter's policies in that @DarthPutinKGB didn't scream parody in giant, neon letters loud enough for the dimmest to understand. But that Doesn't make Twitter's decisions or its rules any less ridiculous -- something Twitter higher ups obviously agreed with given the reversal on the decision less than a day later. It also makes you wonder about the arbitrary nature of Twitter's parody rules and how easily they can be abused, given Twitter's selective enforcement of them -- depending on whether or not the Internet at large gets annoyed enough.

The constant, obvious jokes -- and the fact the account only had 57,000 followers (compared to the 3.2 million followers of the Kremlin's official Twitter account) should have naturally clued most people in to the fact the account doesn't actually belong to Putin. Though reversed, Twitter's move was a senseless attempt at protecting humorless idiots from themselves, made all the more ironic by the fact the only people "offended" by the account -- were likely professional Russian propagandists and bots flooding Twitter's support systems in an attempt to stifle free speech.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 10:51am

    Its twitter....

    Can we stop pretending they even have a reason to be ethical or pro liberty? They are a business, as long as they get their money they will roll over for anyone or anything!

    They are sure as hell going to take a path of least resistance as directly seen here. They were not even about to resist the Russian government until a louder out cry came from the rest of the world.

    This is how it goes, they have no ethical compass in the least!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 1 Jun 2016 @ 10:56am

    We can add this incident to the list of ways...

    ...we know that Putin is a James Bond villain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:04am

    And this is exactly the danger of vague censorship policies. They are so selective. Who knows how many tens or hundreds of accounts Twitter wrongfully censors every day because they might be "offensive" to someone, but would normally still be protected by free speech laws? However, not all of those accounts will be as popular or will get the attention of sites like TechDirt, so they will stay banned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:28am

    If this bothers you, don't use twittr.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:35am

    Is Russia part of the EU now?

    If they would only join the EU they could get these accounts banned for being hate speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:38am

      Re: Is Russia part of the EU now?

      Like everyone, they want to be the arbiters of what is allowable, NOT someone else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:35am

    Is Russia part of the EU now?

    If they would only join the EU they could get these accounts banned for being hate speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:43am

    Turkish prick-president Erdogan is out of obligations?

    Seemingly HIS parodies are taken VERY seriously. Seriously to the point of 2 year incarceration in turkish steamy prisons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:44am

    twitter shows its ass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 1 Jun 2016 @ 11:58am

    Way funny

    Darth Putin ‏@DarthPutinKGB May 27
    Arriving at Athens today:
    Customs: Name?
    Me: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
    Customs: Occupation?
    Me: No, this time i'm just here for 2 days

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 1:05pm

    and i assume the ban was a follow on from the ridiculous German court decision over Erdogan!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 1:36pm

    Techdirt parody account

    Nice joke. Techdirt uses a parody account to spread anti-Russian propaganda. Please in the future more clearly label articles as parodies, some people might not get the joke.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2016 @ 4:13pm

      Re: Techdirt parody account

      Well well well, it didn't take long for the Putin bots to show up. As obvious and useless as ever. Hope they pay well for you to make an ass out of tousled on a daily basis.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 1 Jun 2016 @ 4:13pm

      Repeat after me: 'Anti-Putin is not anti-Russian.'

      If this is enough to get your ire up boy are you going to love one of the upcoming articles...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Jun 2016 @ 6:17am

    and the fact the account only had 57,000 followers

    Before Streisand magic. I see 65k now and let's hope it goes up!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2018 @ 1:30am

    Ilves has a brother, Andres Ilves, formerly head of the Persian and Pashto World Service of the BBC. Until the early 2000s, Andres Ilves was head of the Afghanistan bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty based in Prague, Czech Republic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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