Fact Check: Twitter Did NOT Institute Policy Banning Flag Of Ukraine

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Twitter Did NOT Institute Policy Banning Flag Of Ukraine Retracted

Did Twitter make a rule that users may not display the flag of Ukraine on their profile because it is considered a political statement against Russia? No, that's not true: A post from Walter Report contained a fabricated image which appeared to be a screenshot of a notification from Twitter. A day later, Walter Report published a notice that this is not a Twitter policy "yet."

The fabricated screenshot (archived here) was published by @walter_report on February 25, 2023. The tweet was captioned:

You can't be serious, @elonmusk?
Now you're censoring the [Ukraine Flag]?
Has anyone else gotten this popup yet or is it only us?

This is how the tweet appeared at the time of this article's writing:

(Image source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Feb 27 15:12:12 2023 UTC)

The fabricated notification includes images of typical action buttons one might see in a Twitter notification, labeled "Get Started" and "Skip for now". The fake notice reads:

You must remove the [Ukraine Flag] from your profile
Only Twitter Blue subscribers can visibly support Ukraine. It'll just take a few minutes to remove it. Displaying this flag is considered a political statement against Russia, and as a neutral platform, we must moderate any political bias. Learn more about our new community guidelines.
To avoid losing access to Twitter, remove the [Ukraine Flag] from your profile by February 28th, 2023.

A thread of 14 additional tweets about Elon Musk, Russia, and supporting Ukraine were posted by Walter Report -- which publishes a newsletter that describes itself as "A Ukrainian's perspective on the latest news of Russia's invasion of Ukraine" -- on February 25, 2023. On February 26, 2023 Walter Report published a follow-up tweet (archived here) which clarified that "Twitter is NOT banning the Ukraine Flag. "This tweet did not specify that the original false notice was satire or a fabrication but it appears they intended to use the fake notice to make a point. The follow-up tweet reads:

Twitter is NOT banning the [Ukraine Flag]... yet. The fact that it's so believable Musk would do this is serious though.
Musk's actions and tweets speak louder than fake memes and have real consequences for Ukraine.
A real threat to democracy is Musk echoing his far-right besties' russian propaganda.

This is how that tweet appeared at the time of this article's writing:


(Image source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Feb 27 15:12:12 2023 UTC)

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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