Twitter says the Lincoln Project did not violate its policy on publishing hacked materials when it posted screenshots of private messages between a reporter and a former employee, raising questions about the consistency of the rules’ application.
It is unclear how the Lincoln Project gained access to the private messages of cofounder Jennifer Horn. "Hey @Twitter @jack @TwitterSupport I did not give consent," she tweeted early Friday morning. Horn said she had not had a Lincoln Project-issued phone or laptop, making it unlikely that her passwords were stored on a Lincoln Project device.
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The thread, which was deleted on Thursday night, captured screenshots of a conversation between Horn and Amanda Becker, a reporter for the 19th News. In the screenshots, Becker asks Horn about her willingness to speak critically on background about the project.
Twitter’s "Distribution of hacked materials policy" states that "posting hacked content on Twitter (e.g., in the text of a Tweet, or in an image)" is a violation of the policy. A Twitter spokesman told New York magazine contributor Yashar Ali that the Lincoln Project thread did not constitute a violation of the hacked materials policy. A Twitter spokesman also told the Washington Free Beacon that the Tweets referenced were not in violation of the Twitter Rules.
In October, Twitter faced widespread criticism for limiting the reach of a New York Post article on Hunter Biden that it claimed was based on hacked materials. Twitter later announced it would change its policy to no longer remove posts with hacked materials unless the posts were being shared by the hackers or others working with them. In a deleted tweet, Lincoln Project cofounder Rick Wilson said, "Abe hears things" and quoted the project’s thread exposing the private messages.
Before deleting the thread, the Lincoln Project wrote "Bias?" and tagged several media reporters including CNN’s Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, and New York Times media columnist Ben Smith, in an apparent attempt to have the request for comment covered as a story about inappropriate journalistic tactics.
On Thursday, Twitter permanently suspended the account of guerrilla journalist James O’Keefe, citing violations of its private information policy. The previous week, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones faced no consequence for publishing a Free Beacon journalist’s phone number. Critics claim the incidents highlight an inconsistent content moderation approach that targets conservatives.