Twitter is accused of suspending accounts that engaged in the #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen hashtag, including a self-proclaimed non-profit Saudi female empowerment organization, S.A.F.E Movement.
The hashtag, which started to successfully trend on Tuesday, aimed to protest the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, and quickly took off, with various verified accounts also joining in.
After reaching Twitter’s trending section, podcast host Lalo Dagach reported that the official account for the female empowerment non-profit, S.A.F.E Movement, had been suspended, allegedly in part due to “Saudi men spamming reports.”
— Lalo Dagach (@LaloDagach) September 20, 2016
— Lalo Dagach (@LaloDagach) September 21, 2016
Soon after, other accounts were reported to have been suspended for joining in with the hashtag, including S.A.F.E’s director Isaac Cohen.
The suspensions caused a huge backlash, with many people questioning whether Twitter’s links to Saudi Arabia had anything to do with the censorship.
Apparently ppl who used #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen have been banned
Not surprising since a Saudi Prince is Twitter's 2nd largest shareholder
— Michelle Catlin 🐸 (@CatlinNya) September 20, 2016
— Julie Lenarz (@MsJulieLenarz) September 21, 2016
I'm very curious…why is Twitter doing this? Is it the fact that the Saudi's own a significant part of Twitter? https://t.co/OVBDU9WfkO
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) September 21, 2016
— Wizard Of Cause (@wizardofcause) September 20, 2016
Last year, Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud became Twitter’s second largest shareholder, owning a total of 34.9 million shares, or 5.2% of the company—2 per cent more than Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey also met with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in June as part of the Prince’s New York visit, where Salman also met Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Both accounts have since been reactivated, however Twitter has yet to comment on the reasons as to why they were suspended in the first place.