Twitter said Friday that it mistakenly suspended accounts that were flagged in a “coordinated and malicious” attack by white supremacists and other far-right groups targeting journalists and accounts tracking extremists, The Washington Post reported.
Twitter instituted a new rule earlier this week allowing people to report accounts that post photos or videos of them without permission, which the company said was intended to increase privacy protections.
Extremist groups urged members to take advantage of the rule and report accounts used to identify and track neo-Nazis, other extremists and hate rallies, the Post reported Thursday. “Things now unexpectedly work more in our favor,” crowed one Nazi sympathizer in a tweet, the Post noted.
“It’s going to be emboldening to the fascists,” Gwen Snyder, an anti-fascist researcher and organizer in Philadelphia, told the Post. Her account was one of those temporarily suspended for posting a photo of a Proud Boys rally.
Twitter spokesman Trenton Kennedy told the Post that the company was overwhelmed with a “significant amount” of malicious reports, and that its “enforcement teams made several errors” in their response.
Kennedy didn’t reveal the number of baseless reports, but said there were “dozens of erroneous suspensions.”
Twitter claims the new rule is intended to prevent “the misuse of media to harass or intimidate private individuals.” Exceptions can be made in cases where shared photos or videos are “shared in the public interest.”
Some pointed out that such a crackdown would have seriously inhibited the amateur sleuthing that helped identify Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.
It was unclear as of Friday night if the suspended accounts were all back online. Some users said their accounts that track extremists remained suspended Friday, the Post noted.