Twitter locks Mitch McConnell's campaign account for tweet violating threats policy

Key Points
  • The Republican National Committee, President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, National Republican Senate Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee are suspending all spending on Twitter in response to the company's decision to lock Mitch McConnell's campaign account, Team Mitch.
  • Twitter locked Mitch McConnell's campaign Twitter account, Team Mitch, for posting a video of a profanity-laden protest outside of McConnell's home in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The account has not posted since Tuesday. The campaign will have to remove the tweet in order to regain the ability to post on the account, according to an information page linked in place of the tweet.
Activists hold signs while demonstrating outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on August 6, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Luke Sharrett | Getty Images

The Republican National Committee, President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, National Republican Senate Committee, and National Republican Congressional Committee are suspending all spending on Twitter after the company locked Mitch McConnell's campaign Twitter account, Team Mitch.

Twitter locked the account for posting a video of a profanity-laden protest outside of the Republican senator's home in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Team Mitch account has not posted since Tuesday.

Twitter hid the video on the account, but replies from the Team Mitch account in the same thread characterizing the language in the video as "serious calls to physical violence" and criticizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez remain visible.

The campaign will have to remove the tweet in order to regain the ability to post on the account, according to an information page linked in place of the tweet.

"The user was temporarily locked out of their account for a Tweet that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety," a Twitter representative said of the account freeze.

McConnell's campaign accused Twitter of hypocrisy and criticized the "speech police in America."

"Twitter locked our account for posting the video of real-world, violent threats made against Mitch McConnell," campaign manager Kevin Golden said. "Twitter will allow the words 'Massacre Mitch' to trend nationally on their platform. But locks our account for posting actual threats against us."

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Golden said that Twitter denied the campaign's appeal of the account lock.

Twitter's move prompted a host of Republican campaign organizations to cut off ad spending on the social network.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, an organization dedicated to electing GOP senators, was the first to suspend Twitter ad spending.

"Twitter's hostile actions toward Leader McConnell's campaign are outrageous, and we will not tolerate it," Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee said. "The NRSC will suspend all spending with Twitter until further notice. We will not spend our resources on a platform that silences conservatives."

The NRSC's spending on Twitter has been in the low five figures this campaign cycle, according to Hunt.

The Republican National Committee and the Trump reelection campaign are both cutting off their spending, RNC chief of staff Richard Walters said on Twitter.

"The @GOP and @TeamTrump stand with the @Team_Mitch and the @NRSC," he said. "Any future ad $ either organization was planning to spend with @Twitter has been halted until they address this disgusting bias."

Walters added in a statement to CNBC that Twitter has shown "an incredible amount of bias against Republicans" and is suspending future ad spending until "Twitter adequately addresses its biases and assures conservatives that we are on a level playing field with the rest of the users on the site."

The RNC and Trump campaign together expected to spend between $300,000 to $500,000 on Twitter ads in August, depending on the ads' performance, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment about how much it has spent on Twitter.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect GOP representatives to the House, also announced it would also cut off all Twitter spending until Twitter "correct their inexcusable targeting of @Team_Mitch."

"We will stand firmly with our friend against anti-conservative bias," NRCC Executive Director Parker Hamilton Poling said in a tweet.

The NRCC declined to comment on how much it has spent on Twitter ads.

Twitter did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment about these organizations' decisions.

McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is running for reelection next year. He has represented Kentucky in the U.S. Senate since 1985.

The Louisville Courier-Journal first reported on the account restriction.

Twitter announced in June that it would label tweets from influential governmental officials that break its rules against bullying and abusive behavior, but not block the leaders from the site or remove their tweets. The rule was set to apply to accounts with over 100,000 followers, but the Team Mitch account has 29,200.

Conservatives, including President Donald Trump, have repeatedly accused Twitter and other tech giants of silencing and discriminating against them.

CNBC's Steve Kovach and Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.

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