Free Speech? Elon Musk’s X Platform Makes Surprise Suspension of High-Profile Russian

February 20th, 2024 3:39 PM

X suspended the account of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s widow after she accused Russian President Vladamir Putin of killing her husband.

The platform suspended the account of Yulia Navalnaya, wife of the late Alexei Navalny early Tuesday morning. The suspension lasted 45 minutes, according to The Daily Mail. X later explained in an X post that censorship occurred in error. “Our platform's defense mechanism against manipulation and spam mistakenly flagged @yulia_navalnaya as violating our rules,” X Safety wrote. Although it is unclear exactly what triggered the alleged mistake, X prohibits users from buying followers, something that is often the cause of rapid increases in follower counts. Notably, Navalnaya’s account amassed 95,000 followers within just 24 hours of its existence, according to screenshots.

Navalny, a well known leader of the Putin opposition, reportedly died at a Penal Colony in the Arctic Circle on Friday, prompting his wife to demand the release of her husband’s body in several X posts. She has also encouraged his followers to continue her husband’s legacy. and to encourage his followers to continue his legacy. “I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny. Continue to fight for our country. And I invite you to stand next to me,” she wrote in one post.

The platform suspended Navalnaya’s account just minutes after she posted a video of her mother-in-law asking that the Russian government release Navalny’s body. “I appeal to you, Vladimir Putin, the decision depends only on you. Let me finally see my son,” said Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, according to a translation of the video by The Moscow Times. “I demand that Alexei’s body be handed over immediately so that I can bury him humanely.”

In an X Safety post, the platform claimed that it is resolving the issue, claiming: “We unsuspended the account as soon as we became aware of the error, and will be updating the defense.”

X did not respond to MRC Free Speech America's request for comment by the time of publication.

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