Anybody who’s ever been blocked or locked or limited by Twitter knows — the company never explains why. It only sends a standard form memo that speaks of “violating terms of service,” or some other such bland and nondescript reason.
No apology, though.
Here’s the backstory.
McGowan, of course, has emerged as Harvey Weinstein’s loudest, most insistent and largely believable accuser. Bluntly, she’s accused him of rape — something the Weinstein camp denies — and she’s gone after those she thinks have been complicit in the whole matter. She’s also unleashed a firestorm of social media support for all the other 30 or so women who’ve come forward to speak of their own alleged sexual harassment at the hands of Weinstein.
Among the alleged complicit? Some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
McGowan was suspended by Twitter when she tweeted directly to Hollywood actor Ben Affleck, whom she sees as one of the complicit players, this tweet: “Ben Affleck f— off.”
She also tweeted: “@benaffleck ‘GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT’ you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie.”
Shortly after, Twitter booted McGowan — supposedly temporarily, but with a condition to fulfill before she could regain full tweeting access.
McGowan posted the notification on Instagram, and it read: “What happened? We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules, so we’ve temporarily limited some of your account features. While in this state, you can still browse Twitter, but you’re limited to only sending Direct Messages to your followers — no Tweets, Retweets, or likes. … Your account will be restored to full functionality in: 12 hours and 0 minutes. You can start your countdown and continue to Twitter once you — delete Tweets that violate our rules.”
Not a good PR move.
What company in its right mind wants to appear to side with serial sexual harassers? With rapists? Weinstein denies of course — but he’s one, his accusers are dozens.
The company, via its Twitter Safety account, released this statement of explanation, albeit minus an apology: “We have been in touch with Ms. McGowan’s team. We want to explain that her account was temporarily locked because one of her Tweets included a private phone number, which violates our Terms of Service.”
In a second tweet: The Tweet was removed and her account has been unlocked. We will be clearer about these policies and decisions in the future.”
And a third — the tip-off to the level of frenzy Twitter had been forced to field from an angry public: “Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”
In a phrase: Twitter was red-faced — rightfully so. And company executives rushed to do much-needed damage control. But let’s not overlook this fine point: Twitter could’ve just said so in the first place.
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