What can you get away with typing on Twitter? It’s a line that moves over time.
But Roger Stone has crossed it: The former and maybe current adviser to Donald Trump has been kicked off the service, after sending a torrent of tweets directed at CNN personalities last night.
This Deadline piece from this morning sums it up succinctly: Stone spent a chunk of Friday evening tapping out “crude, obscenity-filled, personal and vaguely threatening tweets against the network’s anchors and contributors Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, Ana Navarro, Bill Kristol, Carl Bernstein and Charles Blow.”
Twitter’s official line remains, frustratingly, that it doesn’t comment on individual accounts.
But people who know things about what happens inside Twitter but frustratingly don’t want to say this on the record are telling me and other journalists that Stone is permanently suspended from Twitter.
Why? Not just because Stone called Lemon a “cocksucker” and a “dull witted arrogant partyboi,” but for this tweet, which announced that Lemon “must be confronted, humiliated, mocked and punished.”
That, according to people who know things about Twitter but don’t want to say them on the record, violates Twitter’s anti-abuse rules, which say users can “not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others” by “inciting others to harass another account.”
Context: One of the long-standing criticisms of Twitter has been that the platform allows users to say terrible things, and that some of those things constitute harassment. This is bad for the individuals who are harassed as well as for Twitter, which has gained a reputation as a place where people are harassed.
Twitter officials also periodically say they’re going to crack down on harassment, usually in response to high-profile examples. Like when “Saturday Night Live’s” Leslie Jones was hounded off the service last year.
Just this month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised, again, to make things better, by taking “a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them.”
So it would have been surprising if Twitter didn’t punish Stone for last night’s tweets, particularly since they drew plenty of attention today.
But given that Stone is a longtime Republican fixer/adviser who loves the spotlight — “I’m an agent provocateur” he says in “Get Me Roger Stone,” a 2017 documentary about himself — look for Stone and his allies to argue that Twitter is making a politically motivated move by unofficially banning him.
That would be a tricky charge for Twitter to engage with under any circumstance, and particularly right now, since Twitter officials are about to testify before Congress next week.
That hearing is officially about Russia’s role in the 2016 election, but it wouldn’t be surprising if some of the questions in that one end up focusing on whether Twitter, Facebook and Google play political favorites. Now Stone’s ban will be top of mind.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.