Twitter has apologised for suspending accounts critical of Chinese government policy days ahead of the 30th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, after an outcry among users.
In a statement posted to the company’s Public Policy Twitter feed on Saturday, Twitter said “a number of accounts” had been suspended as part of efforts to target accounts engaging in “platform manipulation”.
“Some of these were involved in commentary about China. These accounts were not mass reported by the Chinese authorities – this was a routine action on our part,” Twitter said.
Such actions sometimes “catch false positives or we make errors,” it added. Twitter said it was working to “ensure we overturn any errors”.
Twitter’s statement follows a sharp reaction from its users over the suspensions, including U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who in a tweet accused Twitter of becoming “a Chinese (government) censor”.
Twitter said that all users in China who had their accounts recently suspended should be able to recover them, though a day later, some accounts remained locked, according to Yaxue Cao, editor of ChinaChange.org, a website dedicated to writings on civil society and human rights.
“I do believe Twitter is trying to do good,” Ms. Cao said. “No questions about that. But the results are mixed.”