Twitter locked a number of accounts for tweeting White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s phone number or even linking to a news article that contained it on Wednesday, representing the latest change in Twitter’s ever-evolving rules for what does and doesn’t merit punishment on the platform.
In a piece with no byline, Splinter News published Miller’s phone number and suggested readers might “like to call him about” his role in the Trump administration’s family-separation policy, and noted the president’s own penchant for publicly sharing his enemies’ private phone numbers.
Twitter responded to accounts sharing the number with temporary locks. While posting Miller’s phone number could be a violation of Twitter’s rules on posting private information, Twitter also took the surprising step of temporarily locking accounts that just linked to the Splinter article—including a number of journalists and Splinter’s own Twitter account.
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said the suspended accounts had violated the rules on sharing private information.
“It’s against our policies to share other people’s private information on Twitter, including directly linking to that information,” the statement reads. “Today, we temporarily blocked accounts that shared this information until they deleted the Tweet that violated our rules.”
Twitter had a surprising ally in its quest to stop the spread of Miller’s number: Gab, the upstart that Twitter itself has billed as a “free speech” alternative to the social network and, in the process, has become a haven for neo-Nazis. On its own Twitter account, Gab’s management highlighted tweets that mentioned the Splinter article and urged users to report them, responding to critics by saying “doxxing is cancer, eat shit.”
The suspensions will stop now, though, because Miller changed his number. As of Tuesday evening, calls to the number met with an automated Verizon message saying the number had been changed or closed.
“At this time, the number that was previously being shared is no longer a valid number and, as such, we are no longer enforcing our policy against individuals tweeting or linking to that information,” the Twitter statement reads.
Splinter responded to the account locks by highlighting a number of other tweets that would appear to violate Twitter’s rules against hate speech, including one from white-supremacist leader David Duke, that were allowed to remain on the platform.