Twitter deletes account of 12-year-old environmental activist in Sudbury

Sophia Mathur had 2,000 Twitter followers, including prominent politicians, before the social media platform permanently deleted her account last Friday.

Sophia Mathur had 2,000 followers, including prominent politicians

Sophia Mathur, an environmental activist, says her Twitter account was deleted following a protest on Parliament Hill. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Sophia Mathur had 2,000 Twitter followers, including prominent politicians, before the social media platform permanently deleted her account last Friday.

The problems began when Mathur was speaking at an international gathering of young climate strikers in Ottawa last May.

"I was in Ottawa lobbying on Parliament Hill and that week I had posted a lot on Twitter because I had been striking [there,]" Mathur said. 

"So the night that we got back we checked our Twitter account before I went to bed. And in the morning we went to go check my Twitter account again and it was gone."

"Someone tried to hack into my Gmail account and luckily Gmail blocked it, but Twitter didn't," she said. "But later on we figured out that Twitter actually took down our account. And we contacted them two days after that ...and there was no response."

"Today [my mom] got a new message saying that we didn't contact them within 30 days and they can't do anything to fix it."

Her mother, Cathy Orlando, figured someone had tried to hack the account.

She started trying to restore it— including uploading their passports to a secure Twitter platform.

"[I uploaded] mine to show I was the mother and [Sophia's] to show who she was," Orlando said. "I was patient, I waited five or six days, and I said, 'hello what's happening?'"

Orlando says Twitter told her she took too long to respond.

She denies it and criticises the company for a lack of accountability.

Twitter spokesperson Cam Gordon says it won't comment on individual cases, but confirms Twitter users under thirteen need parental consent and supervision.

As for Mathur, she's already got another handle, despite the loss.

"Basically everything I've done since the beginning of when I started striking," Mathur said. "My mom posted stuff together of everything I've done...and all of the friends and followers I had, just all gone."

Mathur says she will be back on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to help organize another climate strike this September.

 "This is not the biggest deal for me, honestly," Mathur said. "I kind of wanted to go on my summer break without using social media anyway."

With files from Kate Rutherford


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?