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Twitter Accounts Blocked in Cuba Authorities Denounce Censorship

Updated on September 17, 2019

The Cuban authorities on Thursday denounced a "censorship" of Twitter, after the temporary suspension of dozens of media accounts and official bodies, the social network evoking his own violations of its rules on multiple accounts.

Denouncing a "Twitter + made in USA + operation to try to silence Cuba", the Ministry of Culture announced that the social network had "censored" the accounts of several of his deputy ministers. "And many other accounts have been blocked."

By the end of the day on Thursday, most of the frozen accounts had been reinstated, AFP reported.

The suspension began Wednesday evening, just as President Miguel Diaz-Canel was speaking live on television to discuss gasoline shortages on the island.

Major media accounts

During this intervention, "Twitter has suspended the accounts of the main media and information companies of Cuba", affirmed on the social network the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"In an obviously concerted operation, we tried to limit the word of the revolutionaries in favor of the truth," he added, while the Cuban president denounced Washington, through its sanctions, as responsible for shortages of fuels.

At the time when the head of state began to speak, the account of the program was suspended, as well as that of the channel Canal Caribe, just like other accounts of official media, including those of the newspaper historic Granma or radio Rebelde.

The accounts of the Ministry of Communications, Mariela Castro, daughter of former President Raul Castro, and the Cuban Communist Party (CCP, single) have also been suspended, AFP reported.

"Twitter is massively censoring Cuba's journalists and media," the Union of Journalists of the island said in a statement, recalling that the US State Department had set up an Internet working group in Cuba, which "recommended in June to use the network as a highway for subversion in Cuba ".

Contacted by AFP, Twitter mentioned its rules on "manipulation", in particular, the ban on "artificially amplifying or disrupting conversations through the use of multiple accounts".

Without giving more details, the social network said it had communicated "the violations of (its) policy directly to the owners of the accounts" concerned.

Defense of the revolution

Cuba, for a long time one of the least connected countries in the world, has made computerization a priority, with the arrival last December of the Internet on mobile phones (3G). But the government recalled in July that the Internet should be an "instrument for the defense of the revolution".

The island is regularly criticized by NGOs for its excessive control in this area: in a recent report, the NGO Freedom House denounced that "blogs and critical sites are often blocked".

On Twitter, we can soon follow "centers of interest"

The offer of these topics, referred to as "interests", will start slowly with the sport. Subsequently, the "interests" chosen will be supposed to be sustainable, such as football, cricket or Apple, and will not take into account the hot topics.

Twitter users will be able to follow a small number of "points of interest", in the same way, that they subscribe to accounts of people, said Tuesday the social network.

"We'll let you follow Twitter's interests directly," said Rob Bishop, Product Manager, during a meeting with reporters at the company's headquarters in San Francisco. This "will help to find new people to follow".

For example, sending tweets or interacting about a certain sports team could generate a request from the user to allow him to "follow" this team or to be kept informed of what is said about it on Twitter.

But also hide topics

It will also be possible to "hide" the subjects too, for example, avoid seeing the score of a sports match recorded for later viewing.

The offer of these topics, referred to as "interests", will start slowly with the sport. Subsequently, the "interests" selected will be supposed to be sustainable, such as football, cricket or Apple, and therefore will not take into account the hot topics.

"It is important that we define a rigorous set of principles to define the topics," said Kayvon Beykpour, product team leader. "We take this superpower very seriously."

Twitter also intends to focus more on online conversation. "We are rewriting all the conversation service," said Beykpour. "We are remodeling the infrastructure, it's almost done."

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