Why Twitter suspended Al Jazeera’s main account

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The Twitter account of Al Jazeera Arabic was briefly suspended on Saturday.

Al Jazeera, from a separate breaking news account that remained active, said the suspension was a “seemingly organized campaign,” but did not say the account was hacked.

The network’s general manager Yaser Abu Hilalah said in a tweet that the channel's account was suspended. He added: “The jamming just won’t stop ... We will be back.”

A statement on Twitter’s website defining account suspension explains that this can happen “in order to maintain a safe environment for users on Twitter.”

The statement adds: “We may suspend accounts that violate the Twitter Rules.”

Twitter says that occasionally it suspends any confirmed hacked or compromised accounts. However Al Jazeera did not announce that it was subject to hacking.

In response to the news, many Arabic users on Twitter said the account suspension may be linked to what they termed as Al Jazeera’s spread of state-supported propaganda.

A blog piece by Twitter VP of Public Policy, Government and Philanthropy Colin Crowell posted earlier this week suggests that the social media giant is taking further steps to stamp out the spread of misinformation.

“Fake news has become a catchphrase used to describe everything from manufactured news stories, incorrect information and state-supported propaganda, to news some people don't like or points of view with which people disagree.

“We’re working to ensure we are surfacing the highest quality and most relevant content and context first.”

Crowell also discussed the matter of bots.

“While bots can be a positive and vital tool, from customer support to public safety, we strictly prohibit the use of bots and other networks of manipulation to undermine the core functionality of our service.”