#WomenBoycottTwitter: Actor Rose McGowan’s suspension prompts protest

The protest comes after the actor who was vocal in speaking out against Harvey Weinstein had her Twitter account temporarily suspended

Rose McGowan: women are boycotting Twitter in protest against the actor’s temporary suspension from Twitter. Photograph:  An Rong Xu/The New York Times

Rose McGowan: women are boycotting Twitter in protest against the actor’s temporary suspension from Twitter. Photograph: An Rong Xu/The New York Times


Women across the world are boycotting Twitter for 24 hours to make a stand against “women’s voices being silenced”.

The protest comes after actress Rose McGowan — who has been vocal in speaking out against shamed producer Harvey Weinstein — had her Twitter account temporarily suspended.

She told her followers on Instagram: “Twitter has suspended me. There are powerful forces at work. Be my voice. #Rosearmy.”

Within hours, the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter began to gain momentum and was soon trending on the social media platform.

Women — and men — vowed to stay silent and not post on the site for a whole day as a form of protest.

Celebrities announced they would be joining the action, including Chrissy Teigen and Anna Paquin.

Some high profile men, including actor Mark Ruffalo, have come out in solidarity with the boycott and McGowan.

The protest began at midnight and was to last for the duration of Friday October 13.

McGowan said in an Instagram post on Thursday that her Twitter account had been temporarily locked after a series of posts about Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct, including toward her. “TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME. THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE,” McGowan wrote on her Instagram page.

She included a snapshot of a message from Twitter saying she would be able to send only direct messages from her account unless she deleted tweets that violated Twitter rules. The screenshot announced a temporary freeze that prevented her from tweeting, retweeting or liking for 12 hours.

Unlike a full suspension, this measure left her account visible. The message in the screenshot said the lock was in effect because McGowan’s account had “violated the Twitter rules.”

A few hours later, as the Twitter universe was in full steam about McGowan’s situation, the company moved to explain its actions. In a statement, a Twitter representative said McGowan’s tweets had violated the company’s privacy policy because one of them included a phone number. A person familiar with the decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was confidential, said the phone number of a prominent person had been visible in a screenshot of an email that McGowan had posted on the service.

“We want to explain that her account was temporarily locked because one of her tweets included a private phone number, which violates our Terms of Service,” Twitter said of McGowan’s account. “The tweet was removed and her account has been unlocked. We will be clearer about these policies and decisions in the future.”

Twitter can and often does take down individual tweets, rather than suspend entire accounts. A person familiar with McGowan’s account said her account had been frozen partly because of timing: The key decision-makers at Twitter, based in San Francisco, were out of the office when the account was locked overnight.

Twitter’s executives decided to lift the 12-hour freeze several hours early. McGowan reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein in 1997 after a hotel room incident at the Sundance Film Festival, and in recent days has been vocal in her support of women who have stepped forward to reveal that the producer sexually harassed them or worse.

On Tuesday, after actor Ben Affleck tweeted that the allegations against Weinstein “made him sick,” McGowan called him a liar, saying he had long been aware of what Weinstein had done. She has also attacked Hollywood players who failed to criticize Weinstein, writing in a tweet, “You all knew.” Many Twitter users expressed outrage over the locking of McGowan’s account. Actress Jessica Chastain asked for clarification on which rules McGowan had violated, adding, “Asking for multiple victims of sexual violence.” Actress Jamie Lee Curtis wrote:

“And now THIS? You allow Twitter freedom to our president but you silence a woman speaking out about sexual harassment?” Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, wrote that the company needed to be “a lot more transparent” to build trust. Twitter has stated that tweets that are “newsworthy” remain on the site even if they violate its terms of service. In recent months, many have asked why President Donald Trump’s account hasn’t been suspended despite seeming to threaten other countries with violence.

Threats of violence are not allowed on the platform, according to the Twitter Rules, a set of behavioural guidelines for users that include a prohibition against “harassment” and “hateful conduct.” The company wrote that Twitter would not suspend Trump in part because of “newsworthiness.” Twitter has recently been under increased scrutiny after revelations that it allowed hundreds of Russian-linked accounts to flourish on the site.

The Russian-linked accounts seemed intent on inciting partisan furore and electing Trump. Twitter has long been criticized for taking too laissez-faire an approach to monitoring content that many of its users see to be in violation of the terms of service and Twitter rules.

Some prominent users have claimed the site is a hostile space for women. The harassment campaign known as Gamergate flourished on the site for years, and when the company does suspend or ban an account it is often after immense pressure from users. After McGowan’s Twitter account was unlocked on Thursday, she made it clear she was none too pleased with what had unfolded. “When will nuclear war violate your terms of service?” she tweeted, pointing to Twitter’s statement about her situation. – (New York Times/PA)