Last night, Twitter privately notified us that we were being suspended from being able to use our official @PalmerReport account for a week, due to a violation of Twitter policy. None of what we were told about the supposed violation made sense, and the timing seemed suspiciously tied to a federal judge’s new ruling against Donald Trump with regard to his behavior on Twitter. Over the past sixteen hours we’ve gathered more information about our suspension and the suspicious circumstances around it, but we’ve been left with even more questions than answers. Now we’re calling on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and the rest of the company’s leadership to promptly answer these questions for the public good:
1) Earlier this week a federal judge ruled that Donald Trump must unblock all of his critics on Twitter. Immediately afterward, various Trump critics – some of whom are blocked by Trump – began privately informing us that their accounts had just been suspended. Why did you begin aggressively suspending Trump’s critics after the judge’s ruling? What communication have you had with the Trump administration about the judge’s ruling? Are you trying to appease Trump into unblocking his critics, by suspending them instead?
2) Our @PalmerReport account is not blocked by Donald Trump. However, when you suspended our @PalmerReport account last night, we were working on a story exposing your sudden and aggressive suspensions of Trump critics. Were you aware of our impending news story when you decided to abruptly suspend our account as well? Were you attempting to prevent us from being able to post that story for our 169,000 Twitter followers?
3) At approximately 1:00am EST on Sunday, you sent us an email informing us that one of our tweets had been reported for a possible policy violation. The tweet in question made the prediction that Donald Trump would spend the rest of his life in prison, and included a curse word in Trump’s direction. In this email, you confirmed that this tweet was not in violation of any Twitter policy. In so doing, you specifically confirmed that it is allowable to curse at Trump, and to make predictions about his prison sentence. However, just one hour later, at approximately 2:00am EST, you informed us that we had been suspended for a different (and non-profane) tweet which also predicted that Trump would spend the rest of his life in prison. How do you explain this contradiction? What is your actual policy, and which of the two communications you sent us wildly misstated your policy?
4) You informed us that we were guilty of “targeted harassment” against Donald Trump, because we predicted that he would spend the rest of his life in prison. Given that Trump is the confirmed subject of a federal criminal investigation, and that some of his alleged co-conspirators are due to stand trial on charges that can result in hundreds of years in prison, how is it “harassment” to predict that Trump is likely to spend the rest of his natural life in prison?
5) You told us that we were guilty of “targeted harassment” against Donald Trump because we were trying to “harass, intimidate, or silence [Trump’s] voice.” Is it truly your position that the President of the United States, who oversees the FBI, the military, and the nuclear arsenal, and who has near-automatic access to a national television audience any time he wants it, is in danger of being “intimidated” or “silenced” simply because we posted a mean tweet about him?
6) Our suspension was handed down in the middle of the night on a holiday weekend. Which employees at Twitter, Inc were on the job at 2:00am on Memorial Day weekend? How high ranking was the Twitter employee who ultimately signed off off on the controversial and far-reaching decision to immediately suspend a sizable news outlet with 169,000 followers? The tweet you cited in our suspension notice was already three days old, making clear that you hadn’t felt any urgent need to address the particular tweet in question. So why were you suddenly in such a hurry to hand down our suspension, instead of waiting for the open of business, so that the decision could be made at the proper levels? Again, was this tied to the story that we were preparing about the other Trump critics you’ve suspended?
7) You’ve suspended our ability to tweet, retweet, reply, or take any other publicly visible action on our official @PalmerReport account. Yet you’ve left our account visible to the public, which has caused a very large number of our followers to ask if we’ve voluntarily decided to stop tweeting, or perhaps gone out of business as a news publication. Some of our followers have asked if I’m dead. You’ve left us with no proper way of even notifying our followers that we’ve been suspended, leaving them in a state of confused chaos, which materially harms them and us. Was it your intention to maliciously create the false appearance that Palmer Report has simply stopped tweeting, or are your suspension practices merely that negligent?
8) Your common practice is to initially warn users that their behavior is in violation of policy, and give them an opportunity to correct it without punishment. You then typically prevent repeat offenders from being able to tweet anyone but their existing followers for a period of hours. Only after multiple repeat violations do you typically move on to suspending tweeting privileges altogether. Even then, the suspensions are typically for a period of 12 or 24 hours, before finally moving on to week-long suspensions for serial offenders. We received no warning and no incremental consequences, and in fact just one hour earlier, you notified us that our tweets of this type were not in violation of policy. What was your rationale for bypassing your usual incremental steps, and skipping straight to immediately suspending us for a week?
9) After we appealed the suspension last night, you sent us an email this afternoon demanding that we provide a “copy of a valid identification clearly showing the child’s full name and date of birth.” What child? What on earth does this mean, and how does it relate to our suspension and appeal? Are you that incompetent, or have you purposely placed our appeal process into the wrong category, in order to ensure that our reinstatement will take longer?
10) You acknowledged to us in writing that the statements we made in our tweets were not in violation of any Twitter policies, before suspending us an hour later. You’ve left our account in the kind of limbo that gives the appearance that we weren’t suspended, and that we’ve instead gone out of business. You did this in the middle of the night on a holiday weekend, in a manner which went sharply against your own common standards and practices. You did this shortly after a judge ruled that Donald Trump had to unblock his critics on Twitter. You appear to be directly and purposely undermining a federal judge’s ruling, in an attempt at protecting or appeasing Trump. Are you coordinating this effort with Trump and his administration? Please publicly answer all of the above questions now, and immediately reactivate our @PalmerReport account, before you end up having to explain your actions to the judge you appear to be trying to undermine.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report