Alexandra Brodsky is a co-founder of Know Your IX, an organization that advocates for students’ rights to an education free from gender-based violence. She now works at National Women’s Law Center. This weekend Brodsky received a number of harassing tweets from anti-Semitic trolls, replete with Holocaust imagery and phrases like, "Welcome to Trump's America. See you in the camps!" Brodsky promptly reported the tweets to Twitter and screenshotted the offending tweets. Then, "to highlight the new normal in Trump's America and put pressure on Twitter to suspend the users," she tweeted those screenshots to her 5,047 followers.
Hours later, according to Brodsky, Twitter locked her account, telling her that she'd need to delete the offending images in order to regain access to it. Brodsky's trolls, meanwhile, had not been suspended. "So let's get this straight: Twitter still hasn't suspended all the bigots I reported, but they have suspended me for calling out bigotry," Brodsky wrote in a post to her Facebook page Monday morning. "I call bullshit."
Shortly after BuzzFeed News asked Twitter about its decision to freeze Brodsky's account and not those of her harassers, the company unlocked it and issued the following statement:
Twitter takes reports of violations of the Twitter Rules very seriously. After reviewing your account, it looks like we locked it by mistake.
We have unlocked your account, and we apologize for this error.
This isn't the first time Twitter has responded to abuse violations only after being called to action by a media request for comment. On Nov. 2, Twitter suspended trolls using misinformation to disenfranchise black and Latino voters only after being contacted by BuzzFeed News (previously the company had replied to an individual user that the tweets did not violate company rules). Four days later, when the company responded to user reports of more false voter information, its action again followed an inquiry from BuzzFeed News. Likewise, in separate instances this summer, Twitter reversed decisions to keep up an ISIS beheading photo and a number of threats of rape only after media inquiries into those incidents.
Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.
Contact Charlie Warzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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