Twitter has locked the account of conservative journalist James O'Keefe for publishing publicly available evidence that a pair of radical leftists with violent fantasies work for the Bernie Sanders campaign. While O'Keefe's tweets are still visible, he can't publish anything new on the platform until he deletes a post which violates Twitter's rules against "posting private information."
O'Keefe was responding to a tweet by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel claiming that the men, Kyle Jurek and Martin Weissgerber, are Sanders volunteers. When O'Keefe demanded a retraction, posting publicly available Federal Election Commission (FEC) records revealing their employment, Weigel deleted his tweet.
And now, O'Keefe must delete his evidence or he won't be able to tweet again.
Jurek and Weissgerber were filmed going on disturbing rants about armed revolution and re-educating conservatives in modern gulags by undercover journalists for O'Keefe's Project Veritas. They also said there are many people involved in the Sanders campaign who feel the same way.
It's in the public interest to know that paid presidential campaign staffers are arming themselves for the "fucking revolution" - and ready to "tear bricks up and start fighting" before sending 'all 'Republicans to re-education camps.'
Moreover, it's in the public interest to identify and distinguish these individuals as paid staffers who have gone through a hiring process, as opposed to volunteers - who would by definition have a far weaker association with a campaign. And while publishing private information would be a clear violation of Twitter's rules, O'Keefe was using publicly available information to correct Weigel on a pertinent fact. Now, O'Keefe is currently unable to reach his 710,000 followers unless he retracts his evidence from their platform.
What rules are Twitter actually following when they police accounts?
Was it ok for CNN to confront, harass, and disclose the name of an elderly woman who promoted a pro-Trump social media account allegedly set up by Russians? That tweet is still up, along with CNN's account.
Did @CNN get this woman’s permission to record and harass her on her front lawn and post the video to Twitter?— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) February 5, 2020
Can’t wait until Twitter locks their account!https://t.co/mPCYejZ4Ej https://t.co/IHFZqb3xag
Is it fine that BuzzFeed journalist Ryan Broderick 'doxed' Amy's Baking Company over Twitter, tweeting a link to the private contact information of the husband and wife owners? Broderick's tweet remains as of this writing, along with his account.
Meanwhile, if one directs people to ask a Chinese scientist researching bat coronaviruses about an outbreak of bat coronavirus in the same city as his laboratory, using publicly available contact information - and if you think it's strange that he would be looking to hire post-doc fellows to use "bats to research the molecular mechanism that allows Ebola and SARS-associated coronaviruses to lie dormant for a long time without causing diseases," you might lose lose your Twitter account forever.
And while one would hope that Twitter carefully weighs already-public information and the public interest when they make these decisions, it would be easy for one to conclude that the notoriously left-leaning social media giant is scrambling to mute people who think differently on their de-facto public square leading up to the 2020 election.