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Twitter Says It Accidentally Removed Ukrainian Accounts Tracking Russian Troop Movements

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Ailan Evans Associate Editor
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Twitter admitted Wednesday it had accidentally suspended several accounts from Ukraine and elsewhere that were reporting on Russian troop movements and military operations.

“We’ve been proactively monitoring for emerging narratives that are violative of our policies, and, in this instance, we took enforcement action on a number of accounts in error,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’re expeditiously reviewing these actions and have already proactively reinstated access to a number of affected accounts.”

Many of the suspended accounts were using satellite imagery to track Russian military operations near Russia’s border with Ukraine, according NBC News, which first reported the accounts’ suspensions. (RELATED: ‘Hateful Conduct’: Twitter Locks Rep. Jim Banks Account For Calling Rachel Levine A Man)

Several of the accounts’ owners said they believe they had been the victim of a coordinated mass-reporting campaign by Russian intelligence to trigger Twitter’s automatic content moderation technology, according to the Financial Times.

However, Twitter’s head of site integrity Yoel Roth pushed back on the assertion, claiming the site does not employ automated content moderation for mass reporting and attributing the deletion of the accounts to human error.

“We’re closely investigating — but mass reporting is not a factor here,” Roth said. “A small number of human errors as part of our work to proactively address manipulated media resulted in these incorrect enforcements. We’re fixing the issue and reaching out directly to the affected folks.”

Several of the accounts were suspended at exactly the same time, according to the Financial Times.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed Roth’s characterization of the events, telling the DCNF that “the claims that the errors were a coordinated bot campaign or the result of mass reporting is inaccurate.”

It remains unclear what led the accounts to be suspended initially.

“Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we have longstanding efforts to improve the safety of our service, including identifying and disrupting attempts to amplify false and misleading information and to advance the speed and scale of our enforcement,” the spokesperson told the DCNF.

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Ailan Evans

Follow Ailan on Twitter @AilanHEvans