07:43 GMT +312 December 2018
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    ‘Big Bird Is Watching You’: Twitter Bans Bot Accounts Who Are Actually People

    © AFP 2018 / JONATHAN ALCORN
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    Twitter took a new approach to “get the shitty people to not show up” on Twitter, in the form of a blanket ban on Twitter accounts that were allegedly bots – or, as some vexed users will tell you, simply conservatives.

    As it turned out, many of the accounts caught up in the purget were not bots. "One of the groups I see that was muted / temporarily suspended was Students for Life of America," an anti-abortion group, Resurgent writer Gabriella Hoffman observed on Twitter. "Silencing of #prolife views? #TwitterLockOut."

    #TwitterLockOut quickly spiraled its way into becoming viral on Twitter. Users complained of losing hundreds, if not thousands, of followers, while large cohorts of users were restricted from using the platform.

    ​Gretchen Smith, who has posted several periscope videos showing she is definitely not a robot but in fact a real human with a mildly Southern accent, said her account was locked overnight on Tuesday and then once again on Wednesday. "If they do shut my Twitter account down, because I do believe this is based on our conservative voices, I wouldn't be surprised if my account is permanently locked down," she said Wednesday. "It's a shame our freedom of speech is being censored."

    ​During an undercover sting, perennially controversial Project Veritas captured footage of Twitter Trust and Safety Manager Olinda Hassan responding to a Veritas question about getting "people like [conservative Mike] Cernovich" off their timeline despite the accounts being blocked and muted: "Yeah, it's something we're working on, we're trying to get the shitty people to not show up."

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    Tags:
    Twitter account suspended, bots, Project Veritas, Twitter, United States
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