Twitter admits mistakenly deleting some Ukrainian open source intelligence accounts
Humanity is once again facing a critical situation; this time a war between Ukraine and Russia with potentially devastating consequences for the rest of the world. Of course, the internet, and mainly social networks, are playing a fundamental role in consuming and disseminating information. The problem, however, is that “moderation” of the large volume of news that is published is practically impossible for companies, including Twitter.
For days now, various Ukrainian OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) profiles have been covering the advance of Russian troops towards the Ukrainian border on Twitter. However, completely unexpectedly, some of these accounts were deleted by the social network despite the fact that their information was true, according to Ars Technica. Twitter has already recognized that it was an error and restored the operation of these profiles. What exactly happened?
Affected Ukrainian journalists initially suspected that Russia had launched a bot campaign to report their posts as suspicious for false content. “Twitter has… a responsibility to ensure that its own information systems are not misused by individuals or nations,” declared one of them.
Some profiles from Ukraine, harmed by a human error
Agencia EFE Twitter's system usually reacts when a high volume of complaints are filed about a tweet or profile. However, from what the company has mentioned in past situations, their system does not have the ability to block an account based on the number of complaints. After a manual review, it is a human —or several— who makes the final decision.
Therefore, it can be ruled out that the closure of these OSINT profiles originating in Ukraine was caused by a Russian bot campaign. What actually happened, according to Twitter, is that they simply made a mistake when classifying the accounts involved as “manipulated or misleading”. Following criticism from multiple journalists, those led by Parag Agrawal took swift action to reinstate the affected profiles.
Their activity is key because the information they provide serves to complement the reports on what is happening in the conflict zone. Ukraine, in this case. Of course, it is still worrying that, despite past experiences, Twitter continues to fall into this type of error in the midst of a panorama of uncertainty.