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Twitter suspends eight accounts linked to anonymous 'Barbara J Pym' account used by Eoghan Harris

Columnist Eoghan Harris was part of a now-suspended Twitter account called ‘Barbara J Pym’.
May 7th 2021, 2:15 PM 48,356 0

TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED eight additional accounts linked to the anonymous Twitter account associated with former Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris. 

It was reported last night that Harris admitted to editors he was part of a Twitter account, Barbara J Pym, which regularly tweeted about Irish politics and journalism.

His contract with the newspaper has been terminated with immediate effect, with the newspaper’s editor describing Harris’s involvement with the account as “a betrayal of trust”. 

The account was suspended overnight, and a Twitter spokesperson has confirmed that eight other accounts linked to Barbara J Pym have also been suspended. 

The spokesperson said all of the accounts violated the site’s “policy on platform manipulation and spam”. 

“Platform manipulation is strictly prohibited under the Twitter Rules,” the spokesperson said.

“The account you referenced [Barbara J Pym] was permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules on platform manipulation and spam.”

This policy is aimed to prevent people from using Twitter “in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behaviour that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience” on the platform. 

The spokesperson added that Twitter is “proactively” monitored to identify and mitigate “attempts at platform manipulation”. 

“We will continue this approach to platform manipulation and any other attempts to undermine the integrity of our service.” 

Yesterday, Sunday Independent editor Alan English said that many of the comments on the account “went far beyond what I would describe as fair and reasonable comment. Under no circumstances would such material have been published in our newspaper or on Independent.ie.”

Harris regularly wrote columns about Northern Ireland and Sinn Féin. 

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English said, in a statement yesterday evening, that the company found “Eoghan Harris’s involvement with this account as a betrayal of trust and as such his contract has been terminated”.

English added: “Regardless of where they stand on any issue, we expect our writers to put their views across in a transparent manner. Readers can agree or disagree with these opinions. We will not, however, tolerate hidden agendas.”

The editor said Harris “accepted that he was one of the founders” of the Barbara J Pym account and he was one of a group that contributed to the “entity”. 

English said on Twitter earlier that attacks on Irish Examiner journalist Aoife Moore by the Barbara J Pym account were “contemptible”. 

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Orla Dwyer

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