Flip flop —
Twitter has struggled to develop consistent moderation policies.
After a day of blistering criticism from Republicans, Twitter has reversed an earlier decision and restored the campaign account of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. His account had been frozen after tweeting out a video showing several protestors shouting violent threats against McConnell outside the senator’s Kentucky home.
Twitter’s rules ban anyone from posting videos that contain violence or threats of violence. The video in question included several apparent threats against McConnell, including a woman shouting “just stab the motherfucker in the heart please.”
But weirdly, Twitter’s policies don’t draw distinctions based on the purpose or context of a posted video. A threatening video posted by someone making the threat is treated the same way as a video posted by the target of threatening remarks.
Twitter stood by its decision even after the McConnell campaign pointed out the absurdity of penalizing the target of violent threats for posting a video of them. “The users were temporarily locked out of their accounts for a Tweet that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety,” Twitter said in a Thursday afternoon email to Ars.
Republicans pounced on Twitter’s decision, portraying it as the latest example of anti-conservative bias among major technology companies. Republican campaign committees in both the House and Senate vowed to freeze ad spending on Twitter’s platform until Twitter restored McConnell’s account.
It didn’t take long for Twitter reverse course.
“Several Twitter users, including US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account, were temporarily locked out of their accounts for Tweeting a video that violated our abusive behavior policy,” Twitter tweeted on Friday. “After multiple appeals from affected users and Leader McConnell’s team confirming their intent to highlight the threats for public discussion, we have reviewed this case more closely.”
“Going forward, the video will be visible on the service with a sensitive media interstitial and only in cases where the Tweet content does not otherwise violate the Twitter Rules,” the company announced.