14ymedio, Havana, 8 October 2019 — Cubadebate’s Twitter account has quietly returned to life. Last Thursday, 3 October, the profile published its first message in a new profile @cubadebatecu: #Twitter, we are back. #SomosContinuidad #Cuba The brief message was addressed to the zero followers of the newspaper’s account at that time, whose previous user was suspended by the American company on 11 September.
Cubadebate, which strongly denounced that blocking a month ago, has not given the same prominance to its return and now, five days later, only 600 people follow the account. The discretion is such that on Monday the newspaper published an article entitled Twitter blocks, Cubadebate does not give up signed by Randy Alonso Falcón in which, only in the last lines, it is noted that the newspaper has opened a new profile.
“On Wednesday, 2 October, exactly three weeks after the silencing operation, Twitter informed Cubadebate that it would not accept any more demands for the return of the official account of our digital portal, the one that had the most followers among Cuban communication media,” says the text.
The official media has decided to go to battle against the company’s refusal by creating a new account, but the reasons why it has barely promoted it are unknown. In the text published yesterday, Cubadebate devotes ample space to criticizing Twitter and accuses “the American special services (and other powers)” of having used the network “more than once in its operations around the world.”
Among these “operations” explicit reference is made to the Primaveras Árabes (Arab Springs) and the Zunzuneo program, a social network that, according to the ruling party, was funded by USAID in Cuba to “promote protests against the revolutionary government.”
Cubadebate says that it opened a Twitter account in 2009 to “combat media terrorism, confront the lies of the powerful, (and) spread ideas of peace and justice for the world,” which is why it has now returned to the social network. In some of the comments on the news, the readers, however, have suggested a boycott as users of the company, but also other deeper measures such as stopping it, in the manner of Russia or China or creating a Cuban version.
“We should do a kind of nationally independent twitter. It is logical to assume that using services outside the national territory is a danger to our privacy. Russia has taken a good path, we should take it as an example in that regard. Achieve technological independence, there are many talents here that can achieve it,” suggests a reader.
The Cubadebate account was suspended “for violating the rules of Twitter” when it had more than 300,000 followers. Other profiles affected by the decision were those of Granma, Mesa Redonda, Radio Rebelde, Dominio Cuba, Cubaperiodistas and Canal Caribe. Raúl Castro, Mariela Castro, Rosa Miriam Elizalde, first vice president of the Upec (official journalists union), Leticia Martínez and Angélica Paredes, of the Díaz-Canel press team, and Enrique Moreno Gimeranez, Granma journalist, also lost their accounts, along with institutional profiles.
At that time, the Cuban press and the authorities raised their voices against what they considered intolerable censorship. “It seems a concerted operation of false allegations of abusive use and violation of platform policies. Surprising political bias, selectivity of affected users and opportunity (opportunism): when President Diaz Canel speaks,” Elizalde wrote.
Twitter reserves the right to suspend accounts that violate company rules, at the request of users who report them. Frequent reasons for the suspension, as indicated by the company itself, include abusive messages or ones that go against the rules, spam or security (prevention against possible hacking ). It is possible, and frequent, to recover the account following the procedure indicated on the company’s website.
However, according to company regulations, ” creating accounts to replace or imitate a suspended account” can be considered a serious violation of Twitter’s policy and the new account can be subject to closure.
In the following days, many of the suspended accounts were returned to their owners, along with the approximate number of followers they had. However, this did not happen with Cubadebate’s account, which was accused of violating the manipulation policy that consists of “the artificial amplification of information through several accounts at the same time.”
The Union of Cuban Journalists (Upec) intervened in the controversy and attributed the suspensions to “a policy of the State Department aimed at reviving the opposition’s online militancy.”
“What is new is the massive nature of this act of cyberwar, obviously planned, which seeks to limit the freedom of expression of Cuban institutions and citizens, and silence the leaders of the Revolution,” said the organization.
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