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Did Twitter censor Oscar audio critic?

Account mocking sound gaffes suspended mid-show

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and ABC may be keeping quiet about alleged on-air noises audible to viewers during the Oscar telecast, but that didn’t keep fans from sounding off on Twitter.

Neither org would comment Monday about constant criticism via social media throughout the three-hour-plus event regarding what many amateur audiologists were attributing to microphone feedback. Others complained of ringing sounds or frequent beeps.

“Fix the mics!” tweeted an NBC star who knows a little something about award shows, former Emmy Awards host Jimmy Fallon. Another pro wag, comedian Marc Maron, tweeted, “I like that the ghosts in the machine have been trying to shut the Oscars down all night.”

The Academy is responsible for production of the show while over-the-air transmission of the Oscar feed is ABC’s jurisdiction. It’s also possible neither are to blame, and that the sounds crept in at the MSO level, though there was no discernible pattern isolating any one cable, satellite or telco service as the culprit.

It’s not the first time the Oscars have been rapped for audio problems, nor is it the only kudocast that’s been on the receiving end of that kind of criticism. To wit, it’s worth considering that bashing tech specs is a part of every award show, but the sheer scale of social media these days amplifies audience grumbling to a point no TV network can ignore.

The noises actually inspired the launch of a joke Twitter account, @OscarsAudioGuy, who made light of the situation. “We used tin cans this year to offset Billy Crystal in HD,” he tweeted. “Anyone have some more string we can borrow for mic cord?”

But he may have been having a little too much fun. Barrett Tryon, who launched @OscarsAudioGuy, said his account was suddenly suspended during the telecast after he quickly racked up 300 followers. Less than an hour after Variety contacted Twitter on Monday afternoon to ask for an explanation regarding the account’s suspension, Tryon discovered his account was restored along with a message from the social-media company explaining @OscarsAudioGuy was mistaken for “spam.”

Twitter reps did not respond to inquiries, but the company is frequently criticized for overreaching in response to brands who complain that satirical Twitter accounts confuse users. In recent weeks, Twitter has removed accounts parody targets as varied as Qantas Airlines, Cat Fancy magazine and French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

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