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Venezuelan free software activist Luigino Bracci Roa has claimed that his Twitter account was closed down permanently by the US company without any prior warning, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) complained about videos he had posted on the micro-blogging service.The @Lubrio account was popular: Bracci says that he tweeted 133,000 times since he created the account in 2008, and had garnered nearly 43,000 followers in that time.
On his blog, Bracci shared the letters of complaint sent by the IOC to Twitter, which show that the committee did not demand that his account be shut down, but instead asked Twitter to “immediately and permanently remove the material” from its website.
That’s hardly surprising given the IOC’s attempts to impose strict controls on all media outlets and how they use material connected with the Olympics.
Enlarge / Twitter can make any rules it wants, and apply them as it wants.
Ars has sent several requests for clarification from Twitter, asking why the account was permanently shuttered in this way, and without warning, but it was yet to respond at time of publication. We also asked Bracci for an update on his situation, and whether he intends to take any action against being banned from Twitter.
In his blog post, Bracci claims that under Venezuelan law the seven short videos—all under 90 seconds in length—were legal, although a long comment on the post disputes this.
Ars has asked Twitter to clarify how it decides whether content posted in jurisdictions outside the US contravenes its copyright policy, but has not yet received an answer.
Bracci also contrasted the harsh punishment meted out to him simply for posting videos with the situation regarding what he says are hundreds of Twitter accounts that made death threats against the current Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, and supporters of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez.
In an earlier blog post, Bracci reproduced dozens of tweets that appear to threaten people, or post their personal details, all in contravention of Twitter’s official rules.
Ars has asked Twitter what action it took against this abuse of its service in Venezuela, and is awaiting a response.
Although Bracci calls Twitter’s action a “vulgar act of censorship,” the episode is really about the power of companies to impose arbitrary rules and to act pretty much as they wish, since users of their services have little choice but to accept both.
Bracci’s case also raises the important issue of jurisdiction—how global online services implement their rules against the background of differing local laws.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK
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