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Twitter Suspends Troll Chuck Johnson -- Are Its New Guidelines Actually Working?

This kind of tweet might have slipped through the system a few months back.

Julia Tim / Shutterstock

Notorious Twitter troll Chuck Johnson was placed in time-out Sunday — at least temporarily — and it looks as though the company’s new policy on violent threats was the reason.

Twitter suspended Johnson, who has a long history of Internet trolling, for what appears to be a threat against civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. Johnson tweeted this morning asking people to donate money for "taking out" McKesson, who responded, saying that he took Johnson’s comments as a "serious threat."

The account suspension is nothing new for Johnson. But what’s worth noting is that this appears to be an example of Twitter’s new policy on threats coming into play. The company changed the policy’s wording last month so that it no longer included phrases like "direct" and "specific." Essentially, those qualifiers were limiting the types of tweets Twitter could act upon.

Not anymore. This looks like the kind of threat that may have slipped through the system a few months back. So this is good for Twitter, a company that has struggled mightily when dealing with bullying and threats.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on Johnson’s suspension, so there’s no way of knowing how long he’ll be blocked from the service.

Update 4:30 pm PT: Johnson reached out to Re/code via email to comment on the suspension:

Twitter has a problem with controversial thoughts and has opted for censorship.

I was speaking metaphorically about exposing DeRay in much the same way Slate was speaking metaphorically when they talked about "taking out" a Supreme Court justice.

Johnson told Re/code that he wasn’t threatening McKesson’s life, and expects to have his Twitter account back in the next day or two.

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