Twitter is apologizing for ignoring the warnings of a woman who appealed to administrators at the social media site to censure a man who appears to have issued an implicit threat on her life. That man turned out to be Cesar Sayoc, who is now in custody for allegedly sending pipe bombs to political figures who had drawn the ire of President Donald Trump.
On October 11, two weeks before Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others began receiving suspicious, potentially explosive packages in the mail, political commentator Rochelle Ritchie reported Sayoc for violating the rules of the Twitter community. Days before he was apprehended by federal authorities, Sayoc used the Official Handbook of Presidential Grammar to warn Ritchie that he was a part of the “Unconquered Seminole Tribe” that could take her on a “nice silent Air boat ride” in the Everglades, adding that she should “hug her loved ones real close” every time she leaves home.
Apparently unconvinced by the threat, Twitter responded to Ritchie’s report by sending her a message saying that they had reviewed her charges and determined that they were unfounded.
Twitter now says they are “deeply sorry” that they
didn’t give a fuck didn’t take Ritchie’s appeals seriously, according to the Associated Press, although they did not say if they would have pretended that none of this happened if Ritchie had been assaulted. But Ritchie was not Sayoc’s only target. Time reports that the he also sent public threats to some of his pipe-bomb targets:
Another post from the Altieri Twitter account was aimed at the handle of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a target of one of the mail bombs. “Hey slime scum U like make threats run your hole.Do not worry your cover up Fast Furious with your bitch Obama not forgotten about our very close friend of we Unconquered Seminole Tribe.See u soon Tick Tock 4” the tweet read.
To be fair, Twitter’s rules only prohibit “behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice” and says that users “may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people.”
While that seems like exactly what Sayoc did, therefore warranting a suspension, you must also remember that Ritchie is a black woman, which means Twitter doesn’t really care. The Root’s staff writer Monique Judge has previously reported on the social media’s platform willingness to police every segment of its users except for the ones who threaten women of color. The problem first came to light when Twitter failed to quickly respond to the vicious abuse of comedian Leslie Jones by white supremacists including Milo Yiannopoulos:
It must also be noted that Twitter publicly apologized for the company’s “error” but not to Ritchie. However, we can’t really take death threats on social media seriously. After all, there’s no way Twitter could have anticipated that some kook would eventually attempt the greatest mass political assassination in history? It’s not like there was any warning like a death threat in writing or anything.
Who could have known?