On Friday night, an Australian man, responding to Daily Wire-Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro’s comments at the March For Life in which he said it would be immoral to kill any baby based on future actions that child would commit as an adult, issued a death threat against Shapiro on Twitter, writing, “I don’t know if I would kill baby Ben Shapiro if I could travel through time, or just through space to his next event.”
In numerous responses to his tweet, the threat-maker was reported to Twitter support, but there was no apparent action taken against the user issuing the threat. When the user was confronted about making a “veiled threat” against Shapiro, he displayed his complete lack of morality, writing, “I resent your implication that it was veiled.”
Twitter’s stated policy reads, “You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people … We consider violent threats to be explicit statements of one’s intent to kill or inflict serious physical harm against another person. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening to murder someone, sexually assault someone, break someone’s bones, and/or commit any other violent act that may result in someone’s death or serious injury.”
In their section titled, “consequences,” Twitter writes, “Due to the serious potential for offline harm, we have a zero tolerance policy towards violent threats. Accounts found to be posting violent threats will be permanently suspended. Note: Given the severity of this penalty, rare exceptions for permanent suspension may be made, based on a limited number of factors. In such a situation, the account will still be required to remove the violating Tweet.”
Shapiro is far from the only conservative who has been the target of death threats on Twitter and seen Twitter simply ignore what was going on. Author and pundit Dana Loesch has been targeted for years for her support of the NRA; in August 2018, as Peter Hasson of The Daily Caller noted, a Twitter user threatened her children, writing, “The only way these people learn is if it affects them directly. So if Dana Loesch has to have her children murdered before she’ll understand, I guess that’s what needs to happen.” Hasson pointed out that Twitter initially ruled that the user had not violated its rules against abusive behavior, but after outrage erupted, changed its decision.
RedState reported in April 2018 of a man who made a series of death threats against Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and for at least a week Twitter didn’t suspend his account or remove the tweets.
In an interview last September, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted conservatives at his company didn’t “feel safe to express their opinions at the company.” He stated:
I think it’s more and more important to at least clarify what our own bias leans towards, and just express it. I’d rather know what someone biases to rather than try to interpret through their actions. So, if we can say that, and also have the freedom to evolve and change, then at least people know it, and I think it allows us to remove that a little bit more from the work, but it has to be proven out in our actions as well, so ... I mean, we have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company.