Twitter criticized for not Putin up with parody accounts that spoofed Russian leaders

twitter suspends parody accounts that mocked putin and russian officials vladimir
Slavko Sereda/Shutterstock
Twitter has abruptly suspended several parody accounts that mocked a number of Russian officials, including a popular profile dedicated to impersonating President Vladimir Putin.

In a rare case of censorship, the social media platform known for advocating free speech has taken down the @DarthPutinKGB account, which while active had over 50,000 followers. Another profile, which spoofed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov under the guise of @Soviet Sergey, has also been blocked, according to Radio Free Europe.

The spate of targeted takedowns has led some commentators to criticize what they deem Twitter’s double standards, noting that the social network has previously resisted pressure to tackle extremism and hate speech on its service.

For those of us who never had a chance to experience the @DarthPutinKGB account in all its Putin-parodying glory, Radio Free Europe has collected some juicy quotes from its zenith. “A ‘sphere of influence’ is just a polite term for a mafia clan’s territory,” reads a typical tweet attributed to the spoof profile. “A soviet Russian counterterrorism operation kills 146% of the suspects,” states another post. And, of course, there’s this highlight: “Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t good looking enough to play me.”

Although Twitter itself refuses to comment on the matter, the blog linked to the @DarthPutin account has issued an evidently incensed statement: “This is a Russophobic stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists!” Despite adding, “I will be back,” we doubt that kind of reaction will help its cause.

Nonetheless, most Twitter users will probably agree that the tweets in question are nowhere near as overtly offensive as the abuse that has been hurled around the site over the years.

A closer look at Twitter’s policies for “parody, commentary, and fan accounts” could offer some insight into the possible reasons behind the suspensions. Twitter claims that it takes no responsibility for its users’ content, urging members to resolve disputes among themselves. However, if a violation of its terms of service is reported, it can take action.

The only violation that seems plausible in this case is in regards to the profile bio rules — this is the summary attached to each account. Twitter states: “The bio should indicate that the user is not affiliated with the account subject by stating a word such as  “parody,” “fake,” “fan,” or “commentary,” and be done so in a way that would be understood by the intended audience.”

According to Politico, the bio on @DarthPutinKGB read: “146% of Russians didn’t elect me. You don’t visit Russia, I visit you. I serve tea to those that call this parody. Tweets made topless signed vvp.” Perhaps, this blurb simply wasn’t satisfactory enough for the platform. Although we may never learn who reported it, we’re guessing the Darth Putin account managed to ruffle quite a few feathers during its illustrious run.

Wearables

Alphabet’s health watch monitors your heart health, is approved by the FDA

A health monitoring watch being developed by Alphabet, Google's parent company, has received clearance from the FDA as a medical device. This means that the device has been found to be safe and can legally be sold in the U.S.
Movies & TV

From premiere date to footage: Here's all we have on 'Game of Thrones' season 8

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Cars

China’s GAC Motor cruises into Detroit with all-electric Entranze concept

Chinese automaker GAC Motor brought its all-electric Entranze concept to the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. This is the third straight year that GAC has appeared in Detroit, and the company has established a design center in California.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.
Mobile

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.