Why was Project Veritas banned by Twitter? James O'Keefe slams platform's 'integrity', Internet sides with Twitter
The Twitter account of conservative group Project Veritas was permanently suspended from Twitter on Thursday, February 11 for repeated violations of their policies against "posting private information." Its founder James O'Keefe was temporarily suspended from the social media platform when he was found conflicted over taking down one of Project Veritas's posts featuring Facebook's Vice President of Integrity Guy Rosen, which is also said to have breached Twitter's policies.
The video featuring Rosen was widely circulated on February 9 Telegram, which eventually led to the conservative group's suspension on Twitter. The footage shows Veritas's member Christian Hartsock questioning Rosen about claims that Facebook "freezes" comments on threads that "may be" hate speech, detected by the site's algorithm.
How did Veritas's video of Rosen violate Twitter policies?
Rosen was confronted by Veritas's senior journalist Harstock outside his home. The video shared by the group shows the reporter asking Risen, "When you talk about freezing comments containing hate speech, what do you mean by that?" The original video shared by Veritas, which is still available on YouTube, also features another leaked clip of Rosen's from earlier, in which he's seen explaining Facebook's system to detect "hate speech" within comments.
He says, "We have a system that is able to freeze commenting on threads in cases where our systems are detecting that may be a thread that has hate speech or violence, sort of in the comments."
Hartsock further asks Rosen, as the latter is seen walking into his home, "How do you define hate speech? Is it just a speech that you hate? Are you freezing your comments now?". Paying no heed to any of the questions, Rosen walks away and closes the door behind him, while the cameras are still rolling. Hartsock concludes by saying, "The VP of Integrity of Facebook, shows how much integrity he has."
The video was shared on Project Vertisa's Twitter account with the caption, "Facebook VP of Integrity @guyro didn't look too happy to see us...". The post was immediately flagged by Twitter, with the account being suspended.
Meanwhile, O'Keefa also shared in his own tweet, "INTEGRITY ALERT Facebook Vice President @guyro REFUSES to comment from confronted by @Project_Veritas Senior Journalist Christian Hartsock", which was flagged as well for violating the private information policies.
James O'Keefe calls out Twitter policies
The founder of Veritas couldn't accept that Twitter had dubbed their reporting on some of Facebook's confidential data as a privacy breach. Commenting on the platform's decision, he reportedly said, "What I’m trying to understand is, what about what we did is quote 'posting private information?' Reporters with microphones [and] cameras engage in reporting activities on the streets all the time in residential communities, so I’m trying to understand what Twitter considers violating their rules against posting private information," he asked.
O'Keefe added further "Does Twitter consider reporting information the public has a right to know private information? This is quite the Rubicon we’re crossing if Twitter wants to ban this particular piece of information."
He had deleted his tweets since.
Project Veritas criticized for its actions
Even though O'Keefe justified Project Veritas's approach of whistleblowing, their actions have been criticized by the public. A large number of social media users have seconded Twitter's decision to ban the conservative group on the platform. One tweeted, "Project Veritas' worth has been debated in the open on Twitter for nearly a decade now, and all that open dialogue has resulted in consequences from consistently peddling disinformation and not abiding to the terms of service of the platform it was using" Another added, "Project Veritas videos? The ones they’ve been proven to deceptively edit? The ones they hype as saying something really bad but turn out to be nothing? No thanks. Their audience is the gullible and easily manipulated. That’s not me." One tweeted, "Project Veritas has nothing to do with journalism. It's nothing but a radical right wing propaganda machine."
Project Veritas' worth has been debated in the open on Twitter for nearly a decade now, and all that open dialogue has resulted in consequences from consistently peddling disinformation and not abiding to the terms of service of the platform it was using— JJ Irzyk (@IrzykJj) February 12, 2021
Project Veritas videos? The ones they’ve been proven to deceptively edit? The ones they hype as saying something really bad but turn out to be nothing?— Tuff Darts (@Trumpcrazytrain) February 12, 2021
No thanks. Their audience is the gullible and easily manipulated. That’s not me.
Project Veritas has nothing to do with journalism. It's nothing but a radical right wing propaganda machine.— Practical Heretic (@cljahn) February 12, 2021