Twitter Under Fire for Suspending Roger Stone but Not Users Who Threaten the President
What's allowed and what's not on the social media platform? Depends who you are and which side you're on, critics say
Twitter’s decision Saturday to suspend Roger Stone, a long-time supporter of President Donald Trump, for an expletive-laden rant against CNN — while declining to suspend other users who violently target conservatives and the president himself — opened up the social media platform to accusations of a double standard.
Stone, who advised Trump during his presidential campaign, unleashed a series of tweets Friday night targeting CNN anchors Don Lemon and Jake Tapper, as well as other personalities associated with the network, after leakers told CNN that the first charges have been filed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into Russia’s 2016 election interference. Stone referred to them as “lying c***suckers.” As a result, Twitter informed Stone he had violated the platform’s rules and suspended his account indefinitely.
After his suspension, Stone threatened to fight back while accusing Twitter of setting out "to silence conservative voices."
"I have retained one of the best telecommunications lawyers in the country and will be bringing a legal action against Twitter over the suspension of my account," Stone told The Wrap on Sunday. "The battle for free speech has just begun."
"I have been inundated on Twitter with bloggers threatening to kill me, my wife my kids and even my dogs, yet Twitter seems unconcerned about that," Stone added. "This is just part and parcel of the tech Left's effort to silence conservative voices."
Stone has been suspended from Twitter on at least two other occasions: once in April, after he appeared to threaten Media Matters' communications director, and once in March after he apparently violated Twitter's standards.
But Trump's long-time associate wasn't alone in questioning Twitter's standards for which type of behaviors should warrant suspensions and which shouldn't.
Yashar Ali, a contributor for Huffington Post and New York Magazine, issued a series of five tweets Saturday evening in which he wondered about how Twitter chooses which accounts it should hold accountable for violating its community standards and policies.
"What is Twitter's standard for suspending an account? Press attention? Milo and Roger Stone have had their accounts permanently suspended ... But there are obviously millions of problematic tweets from as many accounts every year, why aren't they permanently banned?" Ali tweeted. "And I'm not just talking about people with hundreds of followers, but pretty popular people with thousands of followers."
"And they're not just conservatives, I've gotten crazy hate filled tweets from liberals who aren't bots and who are popular," Ali added. "I guess my point is, Twitter's process seems totally arbitrary and based on press attention. I know that's obvious to some...."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted, "Twitter has suspended @RogerJStoneJr after saying CNN hosts are 'lying' 'c***suckers' However, explicit calls for my (and [Edward] Snowden's) assassination are just fine."
Mark Dice, a far-Right blogger and YouTube personality, called Twitter out for its "selective enforcement" of its policies by comparing the tweets that led to Stone's suspension with a collage of vile tweets issued by sports commentator Keith Olbermann.
"Hey @Twitter, your selective enforcement of your policies is clear as day by suspending Roger Stone for swearing but not Keith Olbermann," Dice tweeted along with the pictures of Olbermann's F-bomb-ridden tweets targeting Trump.
Twitter users also pointed to the Twitter account of Kevin Allred, a former adjunct professor in women's and gender studies at Rutgers University, and also formerly associated with Montclair State University, who was fired from Rutgers after issuing racially controversial tweets, including, "Will the Second Amendment be as cool when I buy a gun and start shooting at random white people or no …?"
Montclair cut its ties with Allred after he issued a tweet in July in which he said, "Trump is a f***ing joke. this is all a sham. i wish someone would just shoot him outright."
Others also pointed to British journalist India Knight, who tweeted in January while referring to Trump, "The assassination is taking such a long time."
Both Allred and Knight remain on Twitter.