Conservative news sites—particularly Breitbart—were making hay of Twitter’s decision overnight to temporarily lock actress Rose McGowan’s Twitter account.
McGowan has become one of the most outspoken voices against Harvey Weinstein and his company in recent days. On Twitter, she has called out actors like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and called for the Weinstein Company’s board to be dissolved. The New York Times has reported that, in 1997, McGowan reached a $100,000 settlement with Harvey Weinstein after an incident in a hotel room.
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Last night, McGowan posted on Instagram a screenshot of a message from Twitter saying that she had violated its rules, and wrote alongside, “TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME. THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE. #ROSEARMY.”
The message from Twitter, posted by McGowan, stated that she had “violated the Twitter rules” and that she would not be able to tweet for 12 hours. It added that she could also delete tweets that violated the rules to reactivate her account.
It is unclear exactly what—or which tweets—caused Twitter to lock McGowan’s account. A Twitter spokesperson said, “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”
The story was highlighted in red at the top of Drudge Report on Thursday morning, just above another link in red to a story about backlash against Twitter. And Breitbart led its site with a full page headline on the story, blaring: “TWITTER SUSPENDS WEINSTEIN WHISTLE-BLOWER ROSE MCGOWAN…‘THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK.”
Conservative sites have focused intently on the Weinstein scandal over the past week, zeroing in on it as a sign of Hollywood hypocrisy. Breitbart has over the years turned “Big Hollywood”—one of its main verticals—into something of a bogeyman, responsible for eroding American values. More recently, Silicon Valley has come in for the same treatment.
Last month, POLITICO’s Nancy Scola reported: “Steve Bannon, while serving as Trump’s chief strategist, reportedly floated the idea of treating Facebook and Google as public utilities, similar to the heavily regulated telephone industry — a departure from the traditional conservative focus on deregulation. Meanwhile, Breitbart News, the online publication Bannon now heads, often goes after tech companies for heavy-handedness and elitism. “Tech” is listed as a section of that site just after “Big Government,” “Big Journalism” and “Big Hollywood.” A recent story on Breitbart mocked a Google employee for importing Maine lobsters to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.”
The McGowan-Twitter story has obvious appeal for Breitbart, as it sits at the intersection of Hollywood malfeasance and Silicon Valley overreach. The story comes in the same week that Twitter endured controversy after initially blocked Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn from advertising a video for her campaign for Senate in a promoted tweet—citing non-factual material in the ad related to abortion—before ultimately relenting. In the past, the site has been criticized for its opaque and seemingly ad hoc approach to policing its users.
McGowan has been outspoken on Twitter in her criticism of those she sees as complicit in Weinstein’s actions. Referring to Weinstein’s brother and business partner, she tweeted, “Bob Weinstein is a POS. They allllll knew.” She has also tweeted the names of Weinstein Company board members and called for their resignation. The actress has accused Ben Affleck of lying and asked Matt Damon, “What’s it like to be a spineless profiteer who stays silent?
It is unknown which of these tweets—if any—prompted Twitter’s actions, but its rules include provisions that say, “You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”