James O’Keefe, a conservative activist and founder of Project Veritas, should be able to take a break from Twitter after the company suspended his account for allegedly making fake Twitter accounts. O’Keefe has denied the claim and says he plans to sue Twitter over the suspension.
Twitter told Gizmodo that O’Keefe was suspended for “misleading others” by “operating fake accounts.” According to the New York Times, Twitter claims O’Keefe was operating multiple sockpuppet accounts to “artificially amplify or disrupt conversations.”
O’Keefe and his staff at Project Veritas have a long history of pretending to be someone else and failing to identify themselves as the journalists they claim to be. O’Keefe first came to notoriety after dressing up like a pimp to secretly record ACORN staff in a series of videos. Then there was the time he and three others dressed as telephone workers and attempted to sneak into a federal building in Louisiana. They were arrested and pled guilty.
O’Keefe’s latest attempt at journalism was to have a Project Veritas staff member create a fake account on Tinder. As reported by the New York Post, the staff member pretended to be a nurse on Tinder and went on five dates with Charlie Chester, a technical director at CNN. The Project Veritas staff secretly recorded Chester as he claimed CNN produces “propaganda”. With rare exception, it's considered unethical to fail to identify yourself as a journalist when speaking with others and intending to report on what they say and do.
Twitter isn’t a fan of people using its platform to impersonate others, either.
On Telegram, O’Keefe vehemently denied Twitter’s claim and announced his intention to file suit against Twitter for defamation on Monday, April 19. He reiterated his intention when he appeared on Sean Hannity’s show alongside attorney Harmeet Dhillon, a former vice chairwoman for the California Republican Party.
O’Keefe claims to be battling an oligarchy working to subvert the truth, but he’s also failed to address the profound ethical violations that he and his staff repeatedly perform. While O’Keefe says Twitter defamed him when it alleged he made sockpuppet accounts, he appears to have zero concern over his own staff making fake Tinder accounts to woo the soundboard guy at CNN.