Twitter controversially suspends Irish journalist’s account

Ian O'Doherty says he has no idea why Twitter banned him...

The Twitter account of Irish Independent columnist Ian O'Doherty was suspended earlier today - the writer says that the company has not specifically stated why his account was blocked.

"I've genuinely no idea. It just seemed a generic message with no explanation," he told to Newstalk.com.

"I am very happy to go on the record and say that I really don't care - it's more amusing than anything else [...] Twitter is not real," he continued.

The journalist regularly covers controversial topics - he cautioned that users who disagree with his views and who are glad that the company have taken this action should be careful what they wish for - adding that they won't be laughing when the company suspends the account of someone who's views they do agree with.

The Irish Independent journalist's former Twitter profile picture

Mr O'Doherty told Newstalk that "one of 500" people who are bearing a grudge against him over his stances on different issues could have provoked this action by the tech firm.

He concluded that he was not overly concerned to learn that his account had been suspended: "Where else am I going to be to called a Nazi monster by people I've never met? Oh well, my loss!"

Twitter Rules

When contacted by Newstalk the US firm said, "We do not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons."

Twitter notes that it suspends accounts for three reasons - spam, suspected hacks, and abusive behaviour.

Under the final category it states: "We may suspend an account if it has been reported to us as violating our Rules surrounding abuse. When an account engages in abusive behavior, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts, we may suspend it temporarily or, in some cases, permanently."

The company faced a backlash when conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos had his account suspended. Yiannopoulos - who went by the Twitter handle @nero, describing himself as 'the most fabulous supervillain on the internet' - is the tech editor for the divisive Breitbart News website.

He became well-known for his vocal support of the 'Gamergate' movement, and has also been seen as a figurehead of the so-called 'alt-right' movement - he was banned in the wake of the racist abuse and harassment directed at Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.

Social future

Twitter has struggled to stay relevant as the social media landscape has fragmented - its user growth has stalled.

The relationship with social media companies and news media has become increasingly complicated as Facebook and Twitter have faced criticisms for allowing 'fake news' to be spread by their users.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg commented on the issue of 'fake news' today, saying:

"There have been claims that it swayed the [US] election, and we don't think it swayed the election [...] But we take that responsibility really seriously. And we're looking at things, like working with third parties, helping to label false news, doing the things we can do to make it clearer what's a hoax on Facebook."