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Twitter’s censorship of a news article sharing White House adviser Stephen Miller’s phone number is leading to more questions about the social media platform’s priorities.
A report earlier this week said Miller found delight in seeing photos of immigrant children being separated from their parents. So news website Splinter responded Wednesday by publishing his personal phone number, suggesting readers “call him about it.”
But Twitter has a policy against sharing the personal data of public figures on its platform. So after Splinter published the article with Miller’s phone number, the platform temporarily blocked reporters from the publication, the publication itself, and anyone else directly tweeting the phone number.
this stupid website is run by babies pic.twitter.com/fknbcd6qFk— Jon Eiseman (@Jon_Eiseman) June 20, 2018
Then Twitter went a step further, blocking people who were just sharing Splinter’s article, not the number itself. According to Engadget, Twitter has previously blocked accounts tweeting URLs to files violating policies but never mainstream news reports.
In a statement to Engadget, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed that it blocked accounts sharing Splinter’s article. Since Miller’s cell phone number has since been deactivated, Twitter is no longer taking action against users sharing it.
It’s against our policies to share other people’s private information on Twitter, including directly linking to that information. Today, we temporarily blocked accounts that shared this information until they deleted the Tweet that violated our rules. At this time, the number that was previously being shared is no longer a valid number and, as such, we are no longer enforcing our policy against individuals Tweeting or linking to that information.
Meanwhile, as Splinter pointed out, hate speech still runs rampant on Twitter all day long.
Kris Seavers is the Evening Editor for the Daily Dot, where she covers breaking news, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.