A number of Twitter accounts parodying the French president have been suspended.

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Spoof Sarkozy Twitter accounts removed

A number of Twitter accounts parodying the French president have been suspended.

Spoof Sarkozy Twitter accounts removed

Twitter users started tweeting on Monday that a number of accounts spoofing or criticising the president had been removed by the social networking site.

Accounts removed included @SarkozyCaSuffit (Sarkozy That’s Enough) and @_nicolassarkozy. When either are searched for the message “Sorry, that user is suspended” appears.

The website of Le Nouvel Observateur reported that the closure of the accounts happened at the weekend, shortly after the president joined the social networking site on Wednesday with his own official account, @NicolasSarkozy. The president now has around 89,000 followers after just five days.

Other accounts to have been suspended include @mafranceforte, which uses the campaign slogan of the president, and @fortefrance.

Newspaper Le Monde was reporting on its website on Monday that a member of the president’s campaign team said they had requested the accounts be disabled.

However, the spokesman said they had only asked for accounts that could be mistaken for the president to be removed, and not those that were obviously parodies, such as @SarkoCaSuffit or @mafranceforte.

Twitter’s own rules about parodies say that users are “allowed to create parody, commentary or fan accounts.”

The rules state that, to avoid impersonation, “an account’s profile information should make it clear that the creator of the account is not actually the same person as the subject of the parody.”

The campaign group Internet Sans Frontières (Internet Without Borders) published a response from Twitter which, it says, was sent to the owner of the account @_NicolasSarkozy giving reasons for the suspension.

“We have received a valid report that your account @_NicolasSarkozy is engaged in nonparody impersonation. Although Twitter firmly believes in the freedom of expression, impersonation that misleads, confuses or deceives others is against the Twitter rules,” said the message..

Internet Sans Frontières said the accounts “did not violate Twitter’s user terms because they were clearly parodies.” Specifically, the organisation said the @_NicolasSarkozy account stated it was a parody in its profile. 

On Monday, the hashtag #SarkoCensure was trending strongly on Twitter in France as users commented on the reported suspensions. 

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Twitter appeals French court ruling on hate speech transparency

Twitter has appealed a French court decision that ordered it to give activists full access to all of its relevant documents on efforts to fight hate speech, lawyers and a judicial source said on Saturday.

Twitter appeals French court ruling on hate speech transparency
The Twitter logo is seen on a phone. Twitter has appealed a French court judgement requiring it to share documents with activist groups. Photo: Alastair Pike / AFP

In July, a French court ordered Twitter to grant six French anti-discrimination groups full access to all documents relating to the
company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applied to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter has appealed the decision and a hearing has been set for December 9, 2021, a judicial source told AFP, confirming information released by the groups’ lawyers.

Twitter and its lawyers declined to comment.

The July order said that Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fight homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as the offence of “condoning crimes against humanity”.

It also said Twitter must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

READ ALSO: French court orders Twitter to change smallprint over ‘abusive’ methods

The July ruling gave the San Francisco-based company two months to comply. Twitter can ask for a suspension pending the appeal.

The six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The groups campaign against homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media giants it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.