Twitter has suspended the accounts of what appear to be hundreds of New Zealand-based users – many of whom frequently voiced right-wing New Zealand political opinions.
Among the purge is former Act candidate Stephen Berry and a number of other tweeters, many consider to be controversial.
The purge appears to be part of Twitter’s crackdown, following the Capitol riots in the US last week.
The social media platform has so far culled more than 70,000 accounts – including that of outgoing US President Donald Trump.
Twitter said in a recent blog post that it removed the accounts to: “protect the conversation on our service from attempts to incite violence, organise attacks, and share deliberately misleading information about the election outcome”.
Many of the suspended accounts from the US had posted conspiracy theories after the riots.
At this stage, Twitter has not explicitly said why the New Zealand accounts were taken down. Visiting the profiles of the accounts shows a message saying the account had been suspended.
But in a statement, Twitter said: “Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon.”
The common theme with many of the now purged New Zealand accounts was the vast majority of them were right-wing.
Berry – who has run as an Act Party candidate a number of times – said he did not approve of what Twitter was doing.
But he said Twitter owns the platform and has the right to do as it wishes, even if it’s something he disagrees with.
“But just because you have the right to be a dick, doesn’t mean you have to be one.”
The Twitter purge of mainly right-wing voices is already having a backlash, he said.
For example, many former users have flocked to other platforms and Twitter’s share price has been hit.
Berry was seen as a controversial figure on Twitter by many, as were many of the other accounts that have been suspended, such as the Redbaiternz and Damien de Ment.
Both users highly critical of the Labour, the Green Party and the media – de Ment spoke at a conspiracy theory rally in Auckland last year, according to Newsroom.
Many of those who had their accounts suspended frequently sent abusive tweets to New Zealand politicians and reporters.
Some of the users have been described as “far-right”.
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