Twitter Said It Restricted Palestinian Writer's Account by Accident

The impacted account belongs to Mariam Barghouti, who was on the ground reporting on protests against the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.
May 11, 2021, 10:57pm
Palestinian protesters run from Israeli security forces.
Image: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

On Tuesday Twitter temporarily restricted the account of Palestinian-American writer Mariam Barghouti, who was on the ground in the West Bank reporting on protests against the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

"We took enforcement action on the account you referenced in error. That has since been reversed," a Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.

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During the temporary restriction, Barghouti's bio and several of her recent tweets were replaced with the message "@MariamBarghouti's account is temporarily unavailable because it violates the Twitter Media Policy."

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Barghouti told Motherboard in a Twitter direct message that Twitter asked her to delete some of her tweets.

"To be frank I’m not sure which tweets, I was at a demonstration being chased by Israeli military jeeps along with hundreds of Palestinians near Ramallah," she told Motherboard.

"I think if I was not someone with visibility on social media, that this would not have garnered the attention it did. The issue isn’t the suspension of my account, rather the consideration that Palestinian accounts have been censored generally but especially these past few weeks as we try to document Israeli aggressions on the ground," she added.

"I feel like I’m in a war zone in Beit El," Barghouti tweeted right before her account was restricted. "Israeli keeps just went full forces with hundreds of teargas canisters shot."

Twitter repeatedly refused to clarify to Motherboard what specific part of the company's terms of service Twitter initially believed that Barghouti had breached.

The top section of Twitter's sensitive media policy reads "You may not post media that is excessively gory or share violent or adult content within live video or in profile header, or List banner images. Media depicting sexual violence and/or assault is also not permitted." None of Barghouti's recent tweets appear to share gratuitous violence or otherwise violate Twitter's policy.

Barghouti, who is based in Ramallah in the West Bank, has been published in Al Jazeera, the Washington Post, and other publications. On Sunday she published an opinion piece on Al Jazeera titled "Why American politicians cannot say the words 'Israeli apartheid'." On Monday, Barghouti published a piece with Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and associate professor at Rutgers University in the Washington Post.

Update: This piece has been updated to include comment from Barghouti.