Twitter suspension of Japan PM critics prompts censorship accusations 

Occurred: July 2021

Twitter Japan suspended the accounts of several prominent critics of Japan Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and his government, prompting accusations of politcally-motivated censorship.

One of the suspended accounts was promoting an animated satire parodying Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide. The account, named “Checking the Prime Minister’s Pancakes for Poison”, was suspended after tweeting about an upcoming film

Another prominent critic, Nomachi Mineko, was suspended and then reinstated after making a series of tweets using the hashtag “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics”.

In each case, the user’s Twitter account was frozen after criticising the Japanese government. However, the accounts were reactivated after a public outcry, with no reason provided by Twitter Japan for the suspension or the subsequent restoration of the accounts.

Twitter later blamed the company's AI-powered content moderation system.

Operator: Twitter
Developer: Twitter
Country: Japan
Sector: Politics
Purpose: Moderate content
Technology: Content moderation system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Freedom of expression
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Complaints/appeals