Ecuadorian NGO protests “arbitrary” closing of Twitter account

The Andean Foundation for Social Observation and Media Studies, Fundamedios, said that its Twitter account had been suspended for six days “without warning and without explanation.” Although the account has already been reactivated, the organization said that the closing was still worrying because of its “arbitrariness,” it said on its website.

Fundamedios protested the closing in a press conference that took place around noon on Tuesday, Feb. 26, said the Press and Society Institute (Ipys). According to Fundamedios, its official account was suspended on the night of Feb. 20 without justification.  They were made aware of the decision by way of an email that listed the reasons an account can be suspended, but did not specify which applied in their case, said a press release handed out by Fundamedios.

Director César Ricaurte said the organization had not engaged in any of the behaviors that can lead to a suspension, which include abusive behavior and identity theft, said EFE.  Ricaurte added that the account was used “as a channel of information about threats and attacks against the freedoms of expression and the press” and said that to deprive “an organization that promotes and defends human rights of a channel of information at the national and international level, constitutes a grave attack against free expression,” said EFE.

This kind of action signifies “an enormous threat to the free expression of millions and millions of users,” added Fundamedios.

At the press conference, Ricaurte also announced that the organization would hire a lawyer in the US to defend itself and ask for an explanation about the closing of its account, said the newspaper El Universo.

Minutes after the press conference ended, Fundamedios announced the reactivation of its account through Twitter, said La Hora.  However, the organization added that in spite of the reactivation, “we demand an explanation on the part of Twitter,” added La Hora.

In an interview with Radio Centro before the account was reactivated, Ricaurte said that although tension was high in Ecuador, “we prefer to think we’re dealing with a misunderstanding, with an error by Twitter and that the account will be reactivated in a few hours,” said the paper El Comercio.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.