After facing a mass advertiser boycott, Twitter has reversed its decision to lock Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account for posting a video which showcased violent threats being made against him outside his home. The video and account have now been restored but the tweet containing the video is now hidden behind a “sensitive media interstitial.”
Twitter’s says it restored the account and video after “multiple appeals” and “McConnell’s team confirming their intent to highlight the threats for public discussion.” However, the decision to reverse course comes after many high profile advertisers including Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican Party, the Trump campaign, and the NRCC pulled their spending as part of a multi-million dollar Twitter ads boycott.
After multiple appeals from affected users and Leader McConnell’s team confirming their intent to highlight the threats for public discussion, we have reviewed this case more closely.
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) August 9, 2019
Because this tweet is hidden behind a “sensitive media” notice, it will now be stripped of most of its organic reach on Twitter and prevented from appearing in safe search, timeline when switched to Top Tweets, recommended tweet push notifications, the notification tab, explore, and live events pages.
Twitter launched this “sensitive media” notice in June and at the time, many people raised concerns that it would be used to censor tweets from President Trump and other government officials.
The use of this “sensitive media” notice on the McConnell campaign’s tweet appears to be the first time it’s been used against a US government official.
McConnell’s campaign is celebrating Twitter backing down as a victory and thanking everyone for helping to get the McConnell campaign Twitter account restored.
Thank you to EVERYONE for helping #FreeMitch.
— Team Mitch (Text MITCH to 47360) (@Team_Mitch) August 9, 2019
However, the fact that this “sensitive media interstitial” has been used to soft censor content from the campaign account of such a high profile US government official sets a worrying precedent and adds to the concerns that many have around Twitter interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections.