False: Twitter users cannot use a Ukraine flag emoticon unless they subscribe to Twitter Blue.

By: Rajini KG
March 2 2023

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False: Twitter users cannot use a Ukraine flag emoticon unless they subscribe to Twitter Blue.


The Verdict False

There are no indications that Twitter has prohibited non-Twitter Blue users from using the Ukrainian flag emoticon on their profiles.

Claim ID d5f6e468


Since Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Musk took over Twitter, the social media giant has seen many changes. Twitter rules have changed for verified accounts, as have community guidelines, rules on reporting hateful content, and other guidelines and restrictions. Against this backdrop, a screengrab of a supposed Twitter notice is circulating on social media, claiming that Twitter users need to remove Ukraine flag emoticon from their profiles and that only Twitter Blue users can make their support for Ukraine visible with the flag emoji. The claim says Twitter moderates any political biases as it is a neutral platform, and the flag is seen as a political statement against Russia. One Twitter user posted the screengrab of the notice on February 26 and captioned it as "This is some BS." This Twitter post alone has garnered over 18,000 views, and 230 likes so far. The supposed notice also asked users to remove the emoji by February 28, 2023, to keep their Twitter account active.

In Fact

We found that the post originated in the Twitter account "Walter Report," which claims to cover Ukraine-related news. It posted the screengrab on February 26, 2023, with the caption: "You can’t be serious, @elonmusk? Now you’re censoring the (Ukraine flag emoji)? Has anyone else gotten this popup yet or is it only us?" Though the user added in another tweet that Twitter is not banning the flag emoticon, many users believed the claim made in the earlier tweet and shared the screengrab widely.

Twitter had earlier this year rolled out the ‘Twitter Blue’ feature, which provided users the option of buying a subscription to the blue tick on their profiles to indicate verification with early access to a few services, such as the ability to edit tweets and longer word limits. Currently, the blue tick suggests one of two things: either that a user's account was verified using the prior verification standards (active and legitimate) or that the user's account has an active subscription to Twitter Blue. 

According to Twitter’s code of conduct, hateful content based on race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, affiliation with a particular religion, age, handicap, or a severe illness is prohibited on the platform. It is also forbidden to encourage people to harass members of a protected class on and off the site. But there is no mention of banning or restricting the use of Ukraine flag emoticon in the user's profile name or profile picture. There is no evidence of any official communication on the use of the emoji either.

Shayan Sardarizadeh, a BBC Journalist, also tweeted that the rumor of Twitter requesting users to remove the Ukrainian flag from their tweets and profiles if they don't subscribe to Twitter Blue is untrue, and the purported screenshot of the request is obviously a hoax. Neither Elon Musk nor Twitter have released any statements or reports regarding the guidelines for using the Ukraine flag emoticon or any other emojis. Moreover, we could also independently confirm that non-Twitter Blue users can use the emoji, and old tweets containing the emoji have not been taken down. 

The trend of putting the Ukrainian flag on their profiles caught up with Twitter users when Russia announced a war against its neighbor Ukraine last year in February. The war that completed its somber anniversary on February 24 has resulted in thousands of deaths and internal and external displacements on both sides of the border.

The verdict

Twitter restricts hateful content but doesn't ban the usage of the Ukraine flag emoticon. Therefore, we mark this claim false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before