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Political Watchdog Banned On Twitter: Why Are Rights Groups Pushing For Reversal?

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A coalition formed by human rights organizations from all over the world are pushing for Twitter to reverse its ban on Politwoops, which is a tool that archives the deleted tweets of politicians.

The coalition, which includes organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch and OpenMedia International, issued an open letter addressed to Twitter earlier this week to demand that the social media company restore access for Politwoops, which is a web tool that is maintained by the Open State Foundation based in the Netherlands.

The efforts of Politwoops allows transparency organizations all over the world to publish the deleted tweets.

"Twitter's decision holds grave consequences for free expression and transparency around the world," the coalition wrote, adding that the social media company should consider the rights of the people to be able to access information that serves the interest of transparency and public accountability.

The company previously said in a letter to the coalition that if the deleted tweets would be republished, that would be a violation of the terms of use of the network. It also argued that deleting a tweet is also an expression of voice for the user.

"Journalists and civil society utilize tools like Politwoops to understand the views and commitments of the people these politicians represent - and the politician or candidate's own intents and perspective," wrote the coalition back in response to Twitter's letter, adding that the right of citizens to access information is more important that the right of politicians to retroactive edits to their tweets.

The conflict arising from how Twitter streams can be accessed is representative of the difficulties that social media companies are facing as public figures such as politicians and celebrities use the online services to reach out to the public. The ease in using services such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to reach followers has also caused embarrassment for many public figures, who can choose to delete their tweets and posts.

While politicians can effectively rewrite their history in Twitter by deleting their tweets, Politwoops highlights these moments for politicians, with supporters believing that the service allows the public to have a better insight into the people that are in power or trying to be.

Twitter suspended Politwoops accounts all over the world last month, which was met by criticism that the social network was confusing privacy with a lack of accountability and transparency.

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