‘You Must Remove the ???????? From Your Profile’ Twitter Pop-Up

On February 25 2023, Twitter user @walter_report shared a screenshot of a Twitter pop-up warning, which purportedly demanded that the account “remove the ????????  [Ukrainian flag emoji]” from their profile:

Alongside a tweet tagging Elon Musk, the screenshot read:

Fact Check

Claim: Twitter users using Ukrainian flag emojis received pop-ups declaring “you must remove the ???????? from your profile” in February 2023.

Description: In February 2023, it was claimed that Twitter users who had a Ukrainian flag emoji in their profiles received pop-ups stating ‘you must remove the ???????? from your profile’, supposedly because Twitter was attempting to moderate political bias on their platform.

Rating: Not True

Rating Explanation: The claim, initially made by Twitter user @walter_report, was later admitted by the same user to be a fabrication, designed to provoke discussion around potential censorship on Twitter. Therefore, the claim is false.

You must remove the ???????? 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 ???????? from your profile by February 28, 2023.

In that context, the account appeared to imply they encountered the message in the course of their Twitter usage. At the end of the tweet, they asked if “anyone else gotten this popup yet or is it only us?”

On February 26 2023, another account shared the pop-up in a tweet expressing skepticism about its authenticity. Still another  repeated the rumor without a screenshot:

On Reddit, a post asking r/SlavaUkrayini about the rumor (“Elon musk now censoring the ???????? flag? Has anyone else gotten this twitter popup yet?”) was deleted, but without any indication as to why.

However, the comments provided information about the image and its origins, linking to a tweet with additional screenshots:

The second screenshot was a follow-up tweet by @walter_report from February 26 2023, archived here. In that tweet, the account admitted to fabricating the image:

Twitter is NOT banning the ????????… 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.

In late February 2023, screenshots of a “You must remove the ???????? from your profile” Twitter pop-up circulated, alongside tweets referencing the image without sharing it. Twitter user @walter_report’s initial tweet neared three million views as of February 27 2023, and hadn’t been deleted. @walter_report admitted the image was fabricated on February 26 2023, but a “correction” tweet was viewed 92.5 thousand times.