February 27, 2020 / 9:19 PM / a month ago

Partly false claim: Twitter suspends account of Ilhan Omar’s challenger for no reason

A widely popular image circulating on social media claims that Danielle Stella's Twitter account got suspended for no reason. The photo portraying Illhan Omar's potential Republican contender has been shared over 100,000 times in different pages as of February 14, 2020 (example here).

This is partly false. Twitter did suspend the account of Danielle Stella, Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District candidate, but it was not “for no reason” as claimed. 

On the morning of November 26, 2019, Stella (@2020MNCongress) made a reference to an supported claim, that Ilhan Omar has denied (see here), suggesting she passed sensitive information to Iran. Stella tweeted: “If it is proven ____ passed sensitive info to Iran, she should be tried for #treason and hanged,” as she later explained on a Facebook post, visible here  According to The Washington Times' report on the incident here she later tweeted a link relating to the allegation and the image of a stick figure hanging from gallows. After her statements, both her personal and campaign Twitter accounts were suspended. Reuters was unable to find an archived version of Stella’s tweet, likely as it would have been taken down shortly after publication.

According to Twitter, Stella’s account repeatedly violated their social media policy, visible here . “The account you referenced was permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules”, a Twitter spokesperson told Reuters. 

While the company statement did not refer to any specific tweets, screenshots reported by The New York Times in the article here indicate that Stella’s account was suspended on November 26, 2019 (in U.S. time zones), the same day she tweeted these claims on her profile. 

Among the Twitter Rules on Safety, the company establishes parameters both for Violence and Hateful Conduct. The policies include: 

“Violence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence.

Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.”

After the incident, Ilhan Omar tweeted here that “this was the natural result of a political environment where anti-Muslim dog whistles and dehumanization are normalized by an entire political party and its media outlets”.

The post is therefore partly false.  Danielle Stella’s Twitter accounts were permanently suspended, but it was not “for no reason” as claimed. According to Twitter, Stella’s account repeatedly violated the company’s rules.

VERDICT

Partly false: Twitter suspended Danielle Stella’s account because of repeated violations of the company’s rules

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