Numerous death threats made towards Republican Senators on Twitter remained on the platform for weeks before being deleted, despite the platform’s consistent record of removing “problematic” opinions within a matter of hours.
Two weeks ago, a user on Twitter threatened to shoot Senator Roy Blunt, claiming that the Missouri congressman was responsible for “allowing someone to murder my loved ones.”
The poster, Kyler Schmitz from Virginia, was detained by police after it was ruled that the threat was an illegal violation of interstate communications. However, his account was only suspended and the tweets deleted once The Hill reached out to Twitter about the threats.
“I’m coming for you,” read another tweet towards Senator John Hoeven, along with a clip showing a gun from the popular television series Breaking Bad. “Let’s #ShootRepublicans #Politicians,” proclaimed another.
The threatening and sinister tweets are reported to have remained on the platform for weeks despite Twitter’s rigid rules against threats, harassment, and bullying. “You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism,” claims Twitter’s abusive behavior policy. “You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others” the guidelines also add.
Despite the lengthy wait for the death threats to be removed, other users on Twitter who have simply committed the crime of having the wrong opinion have found themselves suspended or censored substantially faster.
Video game developer Mark Kern was suspended from Twitter earlier this month after tweeting, “I don’t see why mosques with radical leanings should be excluded from surveillance when the rest of us get our emails collected by the NSA.” After severe backlash both on Twitter and in the media, Kern’s account was reinstated shortly after, however many other accounts with significantly less followers have found themselves wiped off the map after being caught up in the platform’s specific political monitoring.
Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos was also suspended from the platform earlier this month, not once… but twice, after the self-proclaimed “dangerous faggot” made a series of anti-Islam tweets, leaving users on the platform confused as to where Twitter’s policies actually lie.
According to The Hill, who asked Twitter to comment on the situation, the platform responded: “We do not comment on individual accounts or investigations, but it looks like the account you mentioned has been suspended.”