Just days after announcing that it was introducing new features to stop the spread of misleading information in the run-up to the EU elections, Twitter has potentially engaged in EU election interference by suspending the official MEP (Member of European Parliament) campaign accounts of Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin (also known as Sargon of Akkad).
Robinson’s MEP campaign account (archive link) had over 4,000 followers and had been active for less than 24 hours when it was suspended by Twitter.
Benjamin’s MEP campaign account (archive link) had over 11,000 followers at the time of its suspension.
Robinson is running as an independent candidate while Benjamin is running as a candidate for UKIP (UK Independence Party). Robinson and Benjamin have previously had their personal Twitter accounts removed from the platform. However, since these are MEP campaign accounts managed by Benjamin and Robinson’s teams, the previous personal account suspensions should have no influence on these new MEP campaign accounts.
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Twitter has not commented on why Robinson’s MEP campaign account was suspended but it claims that Benjamin’s MEP campaign account was suspended for violating Twitter’s rules around evading permanent suspension.
Benjamin’s MEP campaign team has responded by saying that Twitter’s claim is false and that Benjamin never operated the MEP campaign account:
Hi @Twitter @TwitterUK this ban reason for @CarlUKIP is demonstrably false, we on the team took pains and made a concerted effort to ensure that Carl never operated the account for this express reason.
It was a purely campaign account to announce campaign days and press releases.
Michael De La Broc, a member of Benjamin’s MEP campaign team, added that the team strongly suspects that this is a deliberate act of political censorship and will be seeking restitution via the courts for this potential political interference by Twitter.
UKIP has also released a statement on Benjamin’s MEP campaign account suspension saying that it’s an act of election interference which UKIP will be getting to the bottom of.