Twitter has permanently removed the Project Veritas account and temporarily suspended its CEO, James O’Keefe, for allegedly violating the platform’s privacy rules, though “1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones’ account remains online despite what appears, to some, to be a worse violation.
News outlets on Thursday said that both accounts were suspended following publication of one of the organization’s signature undercover reports, this time on how social media platforms configure their hate speech algorithms.
“WOW! Twitter has just LOCKED DOWN James O’Keefe’s and the Project Veritas account for reporting on Facebook VP Guy Rosen and his statements that Facebook ‘freezes’ comments in places that algorithms think there ‘may be’ hate speech,” the organization said on its Facebook page.
In an undercover video by Project Veritas, Rosen is heard discussing how the platform works to “freeze” speech staffers determine to be hateful.
“We have a system that is able to freeze commenting on threads in cases where our systems are detecting that there may be a thread that has hate speech or violence…these are all things we’ve built over the past three-four years as part of our investments into the integrity space our efforts to protect the election,” he said.
A spokesperson for Twitter explained the platform’s decision in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
“The account, @Project_Veritas, was permanently suspended for repeated violations of Twitter’s private information policy,” the spokesperson said.
“The account, @JamesOKeefeIII, was temporarily locked for violating our private information policy. The account owner is required to delete the violative Tweet to regain access to their account,” the spokesperson added.
Twitter has locked both James O’Keefe and Project Veritas out of their accounts for “violating our rules against posting private information” pic.twitter.com/h09REW0S4m
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 11, 2021
Project Veritas disputed the decision.
“Twitter’s actions today undermine the routine and accepted journalistic practice of asking a newsworthy subject for comment on a story they are involved in,” Project Veritas chief of staff Eric Spracklen told the Washington Examiner.
But the ban had nothing to do with what Rosen said, ostensibly; rather, Twitter suspended the organization’s account after officials posted a video of Project Veritas reporter who approached Benson outside his home to ask him about his comments.
“Our reporter on the ground questioning Facebook VP of Integrity Guy Rosen never revealed the location he is at, nor were any street signs ever visible. Twitter is essentially saying we are to believe that a random number, on a random house, in a random location, is revealing ‘private information.’ Absurd. We have appealed this and are eagerly awaiting Twitter’s response,” Spracklen added.
After news of the ban spread online, several conservative journalists pointed out that Twitter’s suspension seemed arbitrary and even hypocritical, with the New York Post noting Wednesday that 1619 Project creator Hannah-Jones has twice doxxed reporters on Twitter.
“Nikole Hannah-Jones, 44, tweeted out Washington Free Beacon reporter Aaron Sibarium’s cell number after he asked her about old tweets where she spelled out the N-word amid uproar over the ouster of a veteran Times colleague getting fired for once using the word,” The Post reported, adding that Sibarium said she left his number up for nearly three days.
The Times, which is financially vested in the 1619 Project, defended Jones, saying she posted Sibarium’s number “inadvertently,” The Post reported.
“Twitter’s private information policy apparently doesn’t apply to New York Times employees tweeting out journalist phone numbers,” wrote American Spectator contributor Stephen L. Miller.
Twitter's private information policy apparently doesn't apply to New York Times employees tweeting out journalist phone numbers. https://t.co/MTx6hA0oVq
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) February 11, 2021
“This is ridiculous. Much of journalism, especially investigative journalism, involves presenting information without ‘permission.’ Did the @nytimes have ‘permission’ to write about Trump’s tax returns?” Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak added in reference to Project Veritas’ suspension.
This is ridiculous. Much of journalism, especially investigative journalism, involves presenting information without "permission." Did the @nytimes have "permission" to write about Trump's tax returns? https://t.co/lA14lhrWVp – @washtimes
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) February 11, 2021
I guess if the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers were published today, Twitter and The NY Times would ban the dissemination of the information.
— Scott Zientarski (@szientarski) February 12, 2021
This platform is terrible. Conveniently for @jack, Parler isn’t around anymore.
— RubricMarlin (@RubricMarlin) February 11, 2021
Twitter = DNC
You have Pelosi, Hillary & BaROCKS running the whole platform and country
— Parag Gupta (@Parag_Gupta) February 11, 2021