Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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Twitter criticised for suspending parody Putin account

Account @DarthPutinKGB, which mocked Russian president, had attracted over 50,000 followers before it was shut down.

Vladimir Putin

Social media users in Russia are voicing their anger at Twitter's decision to suspend popular accounts parodying President Vladimir Putin and other government officials.

A number of Twitter profiles, including parody Putin account @DarthPutinKGB and @Russia_Not, have been unavailable since Tuesday.

The @DarthPutinKGB account had attracted more than 50,000 followers before it was shut down.

The link to the account said it was suspended.

A parody account of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, along with two others mocking the Russian Embassy in London and the Russian ambassador, were restored and available to users after a reported suspension on Tuesday.

Social media users launched the #NoGulagForDarthPutinKGB hashtag on Twitter in protest.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, an avid social media user, condemned the suspension, describing the @DarthPutinKGB profile as "one of the funniest parody accounts around".

In an interview, the creator of the parody Putin account told the The Moscow Times that the suspensions showed how sensitive officials have become about criticism of Russian leaders.

"I think that they cannot take being laughed at," The Moscow Times quoted him as saying, without identifying him by name.

The creator of the account said Twitter had not contacted him before the suspension.

There was no immediate response from Twitter.

On its website, Twitter says it does "not edit or remove" user content "except in response to a Term of Service violation or valid legal process.

"When we receive a valid impersonation or trademark report about an account that violates our parody policy, we temporarily suspend the account and may give the user the opportunity to come into compliance," Twitter's website says. 

The Twitter rules and terms of service do not prohibit the creation of parody accounts, and users are required to write descriptions that "indicate that the user is not affiliated with the account subject by stating a word such as "parody", "fake", "fan" or "commentary".

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