Finns Party leader gets slapped with partial Twitter ban

Jussi Halla-aho's supporters claim that Twitter is censoring their freedom of speech ahead of April's general election.

File picture of Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho / Credit: Perussuomalaiset

Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho has been partially censured by Twitter, a process known informally as ‘shadow banning’.

It means that the right wing politician can’t post or comment to the social media site, and his profile is more difficult for users to find during searches.

However, this type of banning is usually only for a certain amount of time, and his account hasn’t been deleted completely.

Halla-aho writes on Facebook that it’s not the first time it happened to him, and his supporters say it’s political targeting to restrict his freedom of speech ahead of the April general election.

“Freedom of expression narrows in the European Union all the time. Before too, Europe was able to criticise Islam, not any more” tweets deputy party leader Laura Huhtasaari, before comparing the EU to the Soviet Union.

When other users criticised Huhtasaari for those comments, she replied apparently sarcastically “I understand, I can only draw parallels between European Union and the Soviet Union once I’ve died of hunger in an internment camp”.

Twitter’s views on ‘shadow banning’

Officially, the social media company says it doesn’t ‘shadow ban’ anyone, but it does take other actions.

“We certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology” wrote Twitter’s Kayvon Beykpour in an article about ‘shadow banning’ last year.

He goes on to say that Twitter does however rank search results low for “tweets from bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or divide the conversation”.

In 2009 Halla-aho was convicted by the Finnish Supreme Court of disturbing religious worship and of ethnic agitation for things he wrote about the religion of Islam, and Somalis in Finland.