When the Public is Private: Project Veritas Provocateur Wrongfully Suspended by Twitter

Since the 2016 U.S. election, political speech on social media—and how it’s moderated—has been a subject of much debate. Conservatives have repeatedly accused platforms of bias, while we’ve seen plenty of examples of wrongful takedowns from across the political spectrum. 

While many of the most talked-about conservative takedowns have involved speech that violated a given platform’s guidelines, one recent example bucks that trend: Last month, James O’Keefe—founder of the controversial Project Veritas—found his Twitter account suspended after calling out journalist Dave Weigel for inaccurate reporting about two Bernie Sanders campaign staffers.

Weigel had written a piece for the Washington Post that reported critically on an exposé from Project Veritas, claiming that two men accused of being Sanders staffers were actually volunteers. O’Keefe tweeted in response:

“RETRACTION REQUEST, @daveweigel of @washingtonpost. The subjects featured in #Expose2020 are not ‘Sanders volunteers’ Both Kyle Jurek and Martin Weissgerber are STILL paid employees of the @BernieSanders campaign. Kindly retract another factually inaccurate bit of reporting.”

The tweet also included links to the website of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that showed that the men were indeed paid staff members—as a matter of public record.

Twitter justified the suspension by claiming that O’Keefe had posted private information about the individuals “without their expression authorization and permission,” however, nothing in the tweet was private.

February 2020
The original tweet from James O'Keefe