Twitter is suspending users for sharing and reporting on videos posted by the Highland Park shooter Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III who went on a shooting spree during a July 4th parade on Monday.
Crimo was arrested and accused of killing six people and wounding 38 others.
Twitter users who were reporting on early warning signs from the shooter's old video content by posting and commenting on old clips began to find their posts deleted and find themselves being locked out of their Twitter account.
Several Twitter users contacted Reclaim The Net, sharing screenshots of their locked accounts. In some cases, no reason was given for the deletion and the space on the email about why the account was locked was blank.
When attempting to look at many of the tweets, Twitter simply states: “This tweet violated the Twitter rules.”
News and politics reporter and curator Crab Man on Twitter, tweeted, “Twitter LOCKED my account and made me delete the Robert Crimo Highland park shooter suspect's footage because JOURNALISM IS NOT ALLOWED.”
The reason given for Crab Man's deleted posts was also left blank on the notification email.
Crimo's videos did not themselves contain any explicit violent content but did contain strange ideas and imagery and allusions to it.
In November 2021 a damning video featuring Crimo was posted. The video features Crimo reciting a poem where he repeatedly says he is “like a sleepwalker” and “can't be stopped.”
In the video, the 22-year-old, who goes by the name “Awake,” says: “Like a sleepwalker, I am breaking through no matter what. Like a sleepwalker, unable to stop and think, my actions will be valid, and my thought is unnecessary.
“I know what I have to do. I know what's in it, not only for me, but for everyone else. Where am I going? I don't know, I don't care. There is no past or future, just the now.
“It is more abstract than I could ever have imagined. I can feel the atmosphere pushing me in. It's unstoppable. Like a wave pulling me under, I can't breathe without it. I can't see or hear what I don't want. I need to leave now, I need to just do it.
“It is my destiny. Everything has led up to this. Nothing can stop me, not even myself. Is there such a thing as free will? Or has this been planned out, like a cosmic recipe, it is what I've been waiting for in the back of my head, ready to be awakened. It's what I was sent here to do, like a sleepwalker, walking steady with my head held high, like a sleepwalker, walking blindly into the night.”
YouTube also deleted Crimo's account on the platform where he had videos uploaded.
Tech platforms deleting the channels of mass shooting suspects is controversial. Some agree with the censorship of the content as they believe that it could inspire other shooters or could be seen as promoting the mass shooter's ideas.
Others feel the content should remain so that people can try to assess and understand the motives of the shooter and see what kinds of things the police and other law enforcement authorities may have missed.