On Thursday, Twitter suspended the accounts of Project Veritas and Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe III, claiming the investigative reporting outlet had violated Twitter’s policy against “posting private information.” Project Veritas and O’Keefe had shared a video in which Facebook’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, makes a key confession about Facebook’s policies and then flees a Project Veritas journalist who followed Rosen to his home.
“There’s nothing in this tweet that violates private information,” O’Keefe responded in a video Thursday evening. “This is about Facebook Vice President Guy Rosen from a leaked tape from an insider/whistleblower, where Rosen is saying that Facebook ‘freezes comments in places that algorithms think that there may be hate speech.’”
“Project Veritas talked to Rosen outside his residence, we asked him for comment. He did not reply. There he is,” O’Keefe narrated as he shared the Project Veritas video. In the video, journalist Christian Hartsock follows Rosen into his home, asking Rosen to comment on the leaked video.
“There’s nothing in this tweet that violates private information,” O’Keefe argued. “By the way, it is the paragon of television reporting to speak with residents outside their homes when it comes to matters of public importance. CNN also confronted an alleged Russian operative inside an apartment building. The Telegraph does this all the time. Many reporters speak with people outside on the street, it’s just what reporters do.”
O’Keefe announced that he would appeal the decision.
TWITTER SUSPENSION UPDATE pic.twitter.com/phGHqNkhVd
— Project Veritas Action (@PVeritas_Action) February 11, 2021
O’Keefe shared the Twitter notice claiming that his account had violated the rules. The Project Veritas account also received the same notice, The Post Millennial reported.
“Your account, Project_Veritas has been suspended for violating the Twitter Rules,” the company wrote. “Specifically, for: Violating our rules against posting private information. You may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission.”
The Guy Rosen video remains on YouTube.
In that video, Rosen says, “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.”
This suspension came after Twitter and Facebook removed Donald Trump and as conservatives have flocked to alternative platforms like Gab and MeWe after Amazon Web Services stopped hosting Parler.
While I appreciate O’Keefe’s work, I must admit that this situation seems arguable. The video does appear to reveal Rosen’s residence. When television journalists interview civilians at their homes, it seems likely the civilians agreed to have their homes featured on television. CNN’s footage confronting an alleged Russian operative in an apartment building might be a solid comparison, but it still seems questionable for Project Veritas to show footage of Rosen’s home, apparently without his consent.
That said, it seems unlikely that Twitter applies this standard evenly, and it seems likely Twitter may have targeted Project Veritas for adverse treatment. Twitter should consider the appeal and work with Project Veritas to address concerns.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.