Twitter temporarily suspended a New Zealand professor after she mocked the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping.
Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury on New Zealand’s South Island, wrote two tweets making fun of China and Xi celebrating the centennial of the Communist Party, the New York Post reported.
She reposted a Sydney Morning Herald story headlined “Xi’s hollow 100th birthday celebration for the Chinese Communist Party” and added, “Alternative headline: Xi: its my Party and I’ll cry if I want to,” referring to the American singer Lesley Gore’s hit song from 1963.
In another tweet, she posted a photo of a dour-looking Xi flanked by two Chinese officials on Saturday, writing, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
On Sunday, Brady said, Twitter temporarily suspended her account, to which she commented: “Seems one must never make fun of the Dear Leader.”
Twitter didn’t explain Brady’s suspension, other than posting a “This account is temporarily restricted” notice on the tweets.
Twitter’s action caught the attention of Edward Lucas, a columnist for London’s Sunday Times newspaper, who defended Brady, an expert on China’s attempts to exercise its influence around the world.
“Twitter has not explained what prompted this,” Lucas noted in his column. “Brady received only an automated warning that she may have ‘violated’ the social media platform’s rules. But the decision probably results from a concerted campaign by the Chinese Communist Party’s online agents.
“Enough complaints usually trigger an automated block. After I had stoked a furor on Twitter and sent umpteen complaints, her account was restored. Less prominent victims of Chinese censorship would have scantier chances of redress,” he added.
“Some of the biggest names in social media, from @Twitter to @LinkedIn, and @Zoom to @Facebook, appear to be getting into a habit of silencing CCP critics. Yesterday it was my turn to be censored. Thanks for your support in getting it overturned,” Brady wrote.
She also took a shot at Twitter, saying, “Seems like @Twitter may have briefly forgotten they don’t work for Xi Jinping.”
In a statement, Twitter said it adds temporary notices when it “detects unusual activity from an account,” until it gets confirmation from the account owner.
The social media giant also denied that it suspended the account due to pressure from the Chinese government.
“To set the record straight, the assertion that Twitter is in coordination with any government to suppress speech has no basis in fact whatsoever,” Twitter said.
“We advocate for a free, global and open internet and remain a staunch defender of freedom of expression.”