The tensions between Ukraine and Russia are escalating fast and have entered new dimensions, even as Russia had reportedly removed some of its troops from the Ukrainian border. A full-scale invasion seems to be on the cards now as Ukraine declared a state of emergency yesterday, and Russia this morning, declaring a formal war.

As war clouds are gathering, social media has become one of the key sources of information for the public (and the world). Open-source intelligence (OSINT) refers to the collection and analysis of data gathered from sources that are available to the general public to produce actionable intelligence.

It can be used for national security and law enforcement purposes. In this instance, open-source reporters have been invaluable on social media to keep us apprised of what is happening with Russian forces near the border. Now, accounts sharing this OSINT on Twitter have suddenly been suspended.

Most of the suspended accounts have been reinstated.

These accounts have been instrumental in sharing information about Russian military activity, including the movement of Russian troops and vehicles into Ukrainian territories. They have kept the public up-to-date with what is happening, but now, Twitter accidentally removed a host of such accounts (and subsequently suffered a backlash).

At least 15 accounts that were keeping people updated on the movements of the Russian military were removed by Twitter. The company claimed that it was due to human error and not due to a coordinated bot campaign or mass reporting. Several of the disabled accounts would retweet other accounts that are posting original content, instead of directly sharing images and videos.

This happened on the same day as yet another cyber attack struck the Ukrainian government as the websites of the government, the foreign ministry, and the state security service were down.

“We’ve been proactively monitoring for emerging narratives that are violative of our policies, and, in this instance, we took enforcement action on a number of accounts in error,” Twitter spokesperson Elizabeth Busby said. “We’re expeditiously reviewing these actions and have already proactively reinstated access to a number of affected accounts. The claims that the errors were a coordinated bot campaign or the result of mass reporting is inaccurate.”

There have been concerns that Russia had a hand in the suspension of these accounts. It would certainly not be the first time Russia has used social media and cyberattacks – on February 15, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence suffered from a DDoS attack that prevented users from accessing its website, and two Ukrainian banks lost access to online banking services.

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, took to Twitter to assure that the matter was under investigation and that the company’s moderation team had made the mistake as it was detecting and removing misleadingly altered photos and videos. “We do not trigger automated enforcements based on report volume, ever, exactly because of how easily gamed that would be,” he said.

As for the people behind the suspended accounts, they believed they had been the target of an attack by Russian bots that brought their accounts under Twitter’s moderation radar by mass-reporting their content as manipulated or misleading.