Rose McGowan tweeted about powerful men protecting Harvey Weinstein. Then Twitter locked her out.

Twitter has a transparency problem.

Rose McGowan arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Confirmation" at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday, March 31, 2016. CREDIT: Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Rose McGowan arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Confirmation" at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday, March 31, 2016. CREDIT: Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

On Tuesday, at precisely 4:10 p.m., Rose McGowan sent the perfect tweet. It was succinct, it was vulgar, it was well-timed, but most importantly, it was what everyone was thinking.

“Ben Affleck fuck off.”

Hours later, Twitter locked McGowan’s account.

Let’s back up: The last week has been marked by revelations about movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape. A New York Times expose first published on October 5 detailed the fact that Weinstein has allegedly been paying off sexual harassment accusers for decades. McGowan was one of the first people named as an alleged victim.


It’s also become increasingly clear that Weinstein’s alleged behavior was something of an open secret in Hollywood and other elite circles.

On Wednesday, McGowan, who has been outspoken on social media since the report broke and has offered her support to other victims, put it succinctly: “YOU ALL KNEW,” she tweeted.

And Affleck, she implied, definitely knew, despite a pious statement one day earlier in which he claimed he was “saddened and angry” that Weinstein — a  man with whom he had previously worked — had “used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades.”

“‘GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT’ you said that to my face,” McGowan tweeted at Affleck, implying that the actor had known of the alleged interaction between herself and Weinstein. “The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie.”

Or, in shorter terms, as she tweeted Tuesday, “Ben Affleck fuck off.”

On Wednesday night, McGowan took to Instagram, revealing that the social media platform had suspended her account. “TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME,” she wrote. “THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE.”

McGowan posted a screenshot of the message from Twitter saying she had violated Twitter’s rules. Her account was to be suspended for 12 hours and needed to delete the non-specified tweets that Twitter believed violated its rules about security, suspicious behavior, and hateful or abusive tweets.


News outlets quickly ran with stories implying McGowan had been suspended for the perfect tweet, and Twitter refused to comment on her account or any other individual accounts for “security reasons.”

The widespread outrage following McGowan’s short-term suspension resulted in the company eventually breaking its own rules by commenting on the decision.

“We have been in touch with Ms. McGowan’s team. 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,” the company tweeted. “The Tweet was removed and her account has been unlocked. We will be clearer about these policies and decisions in the future.”

Twitter was quick to add, “Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”

That explanation still raises questions, though. Why lock McGowan’s account, rather than pull the offending tweet? Why shut up someone speaking truth to power and bringing light to decades of alleged sexual misconduct?


Twitter’s lack of transparency about McGowan’s suspension, as well as the larger questions about who gets suspended and when and why, along with inconsistency in the company following its own rules has a chilling effect on speech as a broader topic. It’s worth noting as well that Twitter has a history of inconsistent suspensions, and that the platform could benefit from more transparency and a better awareness of what its user base wants.

Last year, rapper Azealia Banks accused Twitter of uneven enforcement of their rules, after she was suspended for a discriminatory and homophobic rant several days after the tweets were posted, saying the platform only suspended her when she was offensive to white people.

“REALISE that I insulted Indians, Pakistani, black folk,” she wrote on Instagram. “And my Twitter didn’t get suspended until I said “WHITENESS IS A MENTAL ILLNESS.’”

In recent months, Twitter has also cracked down on notorious white nationalists like Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer, which their supporters say is evidence of uneven policing of right-wing speechAt the same time, Twitter users often complain about the platform not doing enough to curb everyday abuse and keep racists, sexists, misogynists, and straight-up Nazis out of the mentions tab.

Of course, most notably, Twitter has done nothing about the fact that the leader of the free world constantly violates the rules it has outlined, excusing its ever-shifting bar for what constitutes threatening speech and saying only that President Trump’s tweets are “newsworthy.”

I guess that’s one way to describe the leader of the free world threatening nuclear war on a microblogging platform.