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Twitter shuts down second anti-Doug Ford account

Last Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm EDT

Former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford announces he is publishing a book: "Ford Nation, Two Brothers, One Vision: The True Story of the People's Mayor," at a news confererce in Toronto, Sept.13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

For the second time in the past several weeks, Twitter has shut down an account criticizing soon-to-be mayoral candidate Doug Ford.

The group behind @DougFordFacts got a notice from the social media site on Monday saying the account had been suspended.

They filed an appeal and got a reply saying the account was “in violation of the policy on impersonation” and would not be restored.

“[We were] surprised, mostly,” founder Simon Henderson told CityNews in an email. “We aren’t a parody site. We’ve published researched and sourced commentary for four years without issue. Impersonating the Fords would be counter-productive.”

According to Twitter’s policy, the bio and name for commentary accounts should clearly show the user is not affiliated with the subject by using words like “fake,” “fan” or “commentary.”

DougFordFacts said for that reason it superimposed its website name on its photo and didn’t tweet in the first person. The group also said it followed the accepted practice of adding the word “facts” to the handle of a commentary account as in @DonaldTrumpFact, @facts_donald, @TrudeauFacts, @HillaryFacts, @FactsByBernie and @NenshiFacts.

“It’s immediately obvious that this is a third-party political commentary account,” the group said in a post. “Nobody in their right mind would conclude that this is an official account.”

Henderson said Twitter hasn’t provided him with any details about the decision or the complaint that triggered it — and he has no idea why the company hasn’t given him a chance to make changes to the account.

Now, he added, there’s no way to dispute the suspension as Twitter doesn’t offer mediation or independent review

“We have always responded in good faith to make adjustments as requested,” he said. “We’ve never tried to be deceptive.”

Twitter said it wouldn’t comment on individual accounts “for privacy and security reasons.”

About six weeks ago, Twitter suspended @DougFrod, a satirical account mocking Ford. User Richard Feren appealed, but the account has not been reinstated.

“Twitter absolutely needs to protect users against trolls and malicious impersonation,” Henderson said. “But now politicians are abusing the rules to stifle public criticism, and that’s not right. We know that private commentary accounts are a small part of the political discourse but citizens still deserve a voice.”

Ford announced last month he would join the race for mayor in 2018. He also ran in 2014 to replace his brother Rob Ford, who had a terminal cancer, but lost to John Tory.

Ford has not responded to a request for comment.

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