On Wednesday night Twitter briefly suspended actress Rose McGowan after a series of tweets criticizing actors – including Ben Affleck – who she suggested knew about film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s alleged serial sexual assault and harassment and remained silent.
The company was quickly pilloried for suspending McGowan’s account, with many suggesting the social network was silencing the voice of a victim of sexual harassment. When reached by journalists from numerous outlets, including BuzzFeed News, Twitter offered its boilerplate response: it does not comment on individual accounts for to privacy reasons.
Later on, after numerous angry tweets from celebrities and others, Twitter clarified its reasoning, explaining McGowan was briefly locked out of her account for tweeting a phone number — a violation of Twitter’s rules. Twitter pledged to do better in such situations, noting “we will be clearer about these policies and decisions in the future.”
For close observers of Twitter’s opaque harassment rules and its inconsistent enforcement of them this is a familiar dance. That’s because Twitter wants everyone to know it is committed to transparency. It is also committed to committing to being committed to transparency.