Last week PJ Media D.C. editor Bridget Johnson was suspended from Twitter with no warning or explanation. It’s been nearly a week now and thus far Twitter has yet to offer a reason for the suspension.
According to Twitter’s Help Center, there are two types of suspension — a temporary timeout that results in reinstatement in a matter of hours, and a second, much more serious “permanent” suspension. Bridget’s appears to be the latter. The company did not flag a particular tweet that was problematic and her request for an appeal has gone unanswered.
While many Twitter users engage in abusive behavior on the platform, Bridget does not. Nor does she brawl with other users or engage in flame wars. She’s a veteran journalist who, prior to joining the PJM team, worked at The Hill, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has also been published at USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico, the New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, the New York Observer, The Washington Times, and RealClearWorld. Bridget is a respected terror analyst and is known for her fact-based, impartial reporting.
So why was she suspended from Twitter? That remains a mystery. Hundreds of Twitter users have tweeted their support for her, expressing their astonishment that she was summarily removed from the platform without explanation.
According to Twitter, accounts can be suspended if they are “spammy” or fake, or if they pose a security risk. They also ban “abusive tweets or behavior. ” Abusive behavior, Twitter explains, includes promoting violence, suicide, self-harm, or child exploitation.
A quick perusal of cached tweets from Bridget’s account demonstrates that she’s not a spammer, and Twitter has not given any indication that she was removed from the platform due to security risks. So that leaves the nebulous category of “abusive tweets or behavior.” Bridget doesn’t engage in any of the banned behaviors, but it is possible that she was targeted by groups or individuals who reported her to administrators, hoping to silence her.
Twitter is an important resource for journalists, and the inability to network with sources and other journalists and to keep up on breaking news stories severely inhibits Bridget’s ability to do her job. Twitter owes her an explanation for the suspension of her account — and an apology for their erroneous decision to remove her from the platform. While Twitter is a private company, the seemingly arbitrary decision to suspend a legitimate journalist raises serious questions about the immense power they have to silence individuals or even entire groups of people.