Shortly after the New York Times apologized for publishing a controversial op-ed by senator Tom Cotton, the Republican politician claims Twitter tried censoring him, but he fought the power.
Cotton penned another op-ed, this time for Fox News.
The 43-year-old veteran, who has advocated turning the military loose on American citizens protesting last months killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody, claimed that a junior employee at Twitter threatened to freeze his account because he tweeted: “No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters.”
Cotton said people who saw the tweet complained to the social media giant that it was a call for violence, as “no quarter” is a military term that advocates killing prisoners of war rather than holding them captive.
“Within a few hours, a low-level employee in Twitter’s Washington office contacted some of my aides at random, claiming that my tweet violated the company’s policies,” Cotton claimed. “She also issued an ultimatum: delete the tweet or Twitter would permanently lock my account. She gave me only 30 minutes to comply.”
Cotton wrote that one of his aides argued with Twitter’s “low-level employee” that the senator had used the phrase figuratively and would be happy to follow up with another tweet explaining his intentions. According to Cotton, the Twitter rep said that was unacceptable and insisted he take down the tweet.
When he wondered why the offensive tweet wouldn’t be flagged, which is how Twitter recently handled a posting by President Trump, the woman on the phone allegedly “contended that Twitter only did so for heads of state.”
Cotton said his office provided several dictionary definitions stating his case and the person who’d called him said she’d ask her superiors to consider his defense.
“It was clear, I should add, that this low-level employee was acting as a front for more senior officials at Twitter, whom one might expect would contact directly a sitting senator to discuss such a serious matter,” Cotton claimed.
He added that the person who’d reached out to him avoided documenting the discussion in writing. The 30-minute deadline came and went and Cotton’s account remained active, he claimed. After two hours, he said he received notice that his Twitter feed would not be shut down.
Cotton said his aide was then told that their policy of flagging offensive comments covers all elected officials, not just the president, but only applied to accounts with at least 100,000 followers.
He also referenced reports that CEO Jack Dorsey allegedly stopped following The New York Times’ Twitter feed after it published Cotton’s June 3 op-ed, which blamed “nihilist criminals” and “left-wing radicals” for infiltrating protest marches following Floyd’s killing.
“One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers,” Cotton wrote for The Times.
The Times later apologized for Cotton’s essay, stating it “fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”
Twitter confirmed that Cotton’s tweet was brought to the company’s attention and met with their standards.
“The Tweet was reported to Twitter and our teams reviewed it within the context in which it was shared, as is standard, and determined it didn’t violate our rules,” a spokesman told the Daily News. “We apply the Twitter Rules impartially to every account on our service.”
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