Twitter Says Blocking a New York Times Account Was ‘an Error’


SAN FRANCISCO — As Twitter has tried to draw bright lines between what is acceptable and not acceptable on its platform, it has stumbled over them itself.

The company was criticized after it froze the account of the actress Rose McGowan in October, when she included a phone number in one of her tweets about misconduct by the movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Then, after verifying a white supremacist this month, the company paused the entire verification program and now has new rules: the company can revoke verification for behavior both on and off the platform.

This weekend, Twitter locked The New York Times’s international team account. The account was blocked on Saturday afternoon and unlocked about 24 hours later, on Sunday afternoon.

The social network said that a @nytimesworld tweet violated Twitter’s rule against hateful conduct. The tweet promoted an article about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology to indigenous people in a Canadian province, where for much of the 20th century their children were compelled to attend boarding schools that separated them from their families and cultures.

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The post said, “Left out of an apology a decade ago, native people in Newfoundland and Labrador get an apology from Justin Trudeau.”

In a statement, shortly after the Times account was restored, Twitter said: “After reviewing the account, it appears that one of our agents made an error. We have flagged this issue so that similar mistakes are not made going forward.”

The company apologized “for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

The New York Times international reporting team uses Twitter to promote its coverage to nearly two million followers, usually posting 50 to 100 tweets a day.

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