Published: 22nd January 2021
What the FAQ: When can Twitter suspend/block your account and how you can unblock it
Here we explain when and how the microblogging site Twitter can block or suspend your account for violating their content terms and regulations
A parliamentary committee questioned executives from Twitter India on Thursday over the temporary blocking of Home Minister Amit Shah's account in November last year. The committee, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor asked the officials to explain why it had done so, according to various news reports. There have been several instances in the recent past where content has been removed for inciting violence, promoting hate speech, especially in the United States. Keeping these instances in mind, we explain when Twitter can suspend or block an account, how you can unsuspend it and more.
Why was Home Minister Amit Shah's Twitter account blocked in November?
Ans: Executives from Twitter appeared before a parliamentary committee on Thursday to be grilled on why Amit Shah's account had been blocked temporarily in November. The Twitter officials explained that they had to block the account temporarily as there had been a copyright issue regarding a picture posted on the platform. "This decision was reversed immediately and the account is fully functional," a spokesperson of the microblogging site had stated then. There is no law in India that allows social media platforms to remove content and so the parliamentary committee questioned Twitter about its actions in November. Both Twitter and Facebook, have, however, always stated that they have strict rules regarding content that potentially incites violence and that they can remove it when necessary.
Who else has Twitter blocked in the recent past for their content terms violation?
Ans: The messaging platform blocked Former US President Donald Trump for 12 hours in the first week of January right after the Capitol Hill riots and said his account will remain locked if the offending messaging were not taken down, according to the Twitter safety team. "As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, DC, we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy," Twitter said in a post. "If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked."
Recently in India, Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut's Twitter account was restricted after her now-deleted post against Amazon Prime Video series Tandav. In the sensitive post, she had written that it was ‘time to take (the makers') heads off’ for hurting religious sentiments.
When can Twitter suspend or block an account on its platform?
Ans: According to Twitter's content policy, the most common reasons for suspension include spam, if the account security is at risk and if there are abusive tweets or behaviour. "Most of the accounts we suspend are because they are spammy, or just plain fake, and they introduce security risks for Twitter and all of our users. These types of accounts are against our Twitter Rules. Unfortunately, sometimes a real person’s account gets suspended by mistake, and in those cases, we’ll work with the person to make sure the account is unsuspended," Twitter states on its official content policy page.
If they suspect an account has been hacked or compromised, they may also suspend it until it can be secured and restored to the account owner "in order to reduce potentially malicious activity caused by the compromise".
And finally, Twitter states, "We may suspend an account if it has been reported to us as violating our Rules surrounding abuse. When an account engages in abusive behaviour, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts, we may suspend it temporarily or, in some cases, permanently."
Can people unsuspend their accounts, and if yes, how?
Ans: You may be able to unsuspend your own account. If you see a message that your account is locked then it might be a result of reports of spammy or abusive behaviour. For example, you may be prevented from Tweeting from your account for a specific period of time or you may be asked to verify certain information about yourself before proceeding, as per the Twitter rules and regulations.
There's also another way if you are unable to do it by following the above instructions. You can file an appeal on Twitter. To do that, "you have to log in to the account that is suspended. Then, open a new browser tab and file an appeal," states the Twitter rules.