Wired reporter Dell Cameron was banned from Twitter on Wednesday after reporting on a hacker who hijacked far-right provocateur Matt Walsh’s account the night before.
According to screenshots shared by Cameron on social media site Mastodon, Cameron was “permanently suspended” by the Elon Musk-owned platform for violating Twitter’s rules against the “distribution of hacked material.”
If this sounds familiar, this was the policy that Twitter used to initially justify blocking the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop just ahead of the 2020 presidential election and restrict the Post’s official Twitter account. After receiving significant backlash over the decision, Twitter soon reversed course and made changes to the policy, stating it wouldn’t remove hacked content “unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them.”
On Tuesday night, the Twitter account for Walsh—a notoriously transphobic troll who describes himself as a “theocratic fascist”—suddenly began promoting a song about gay sex while mocking several other prominent right-wing figures, including Walsh’s Daily Wire colleague Ben Shapiro.
“My pronouns are That/N***a,” Walsh’s pinned tweet read. He also tweeted out that “Joe Rogan Is A Pedophile,” and “I Can Confirm Andrew Tate Kidnapped And R*ped Those Girls,” referring to the infamous misogynist accused of human trafficking.
The hacker also wrote “My Twitter Isn’t Hacked, This is Just The Real Me Coming Out” alongside a screenshot of their phone, revealing that they had spoofed Walsh’s phone and likely had access to his emails and text messages.
While Twitter soon took action and deleted the offending tweets from the anti-LGBTQ activist’s compromised account, Cameron took to social media and asked the hacker to contact him. Eventually, on Wednesday, the Wired journalist noted that the person had gotten in touch with him and a story was soon to follow.
According to Cameron’s story, the hacker—who only went by the name Doomed—took over Walsh’s account because the conservative podcaster “likes to ‘trigger’ people.” Doomed added that he “caused no financial harm, threatened anyone, [nor] ruined anything,” and the hack was merely just a “few silly words on social media.”
Elsewhere in the story, though, Cameron pointed out that Doomed had also gained access to Walsh’s Google and Microsoft accounts and provided several screenshots of the right-wing host’s private emails as proof. Cameron provided a description of some of the documents Doomed had recovered, noting that they “are largely benign.” In one email exchange, Cameron noted that Walsh told fellow conservative podcaster Stephen Crowder in 2014 about his career trajectory.
“There’s certainly plenty of money to be made when you can get millions of hits online, and I’m a capitalist and I have a family, so I’ve decided to start getting serious about that,” Walsh wrote.
Shortly after Cameron’s story went live on Wednesday, his Twitter account was pulled down. Notably, around that same time, far-right activist Andy Ngo—who is one of several prominent right-wing figures who seem to have Musk’s ear—had tweeted that Cameron “used Twitter to solicit stolen information belonging to” Walsh.
While Twitter has told Cameron he is perma-banned for violating its hacked material policy, the site’s current rules—which were revised after the Hunter Biden fiasco—indicate that there is a carve-out for reporting.
“We recognize that source materials obtained through leaks can serve as the basis for important reporting by news agencies meant to hold our institutions and leaders to account,” the platform’s policy states. “As such, we defer to their editorial judgement in publishing these materials, and believe our responsibility is to provide additional context that is useful in providing clarity to the conversation that happens on Twitter.”
The policy continues: “In most cases, discussions of or reporting about hacking or hacked materials constitutes indirect distribution (unless the people or groups directly associated with a hack are responsible for the production of the discussions or reporting). In these cases, a violation of this policy would result in a label or warning message, not removal of the Tweet(s) from Twitter.”
Ironically, Musk was incredibly upset that the site he currently owns suspended the New York Post and blocked its laptop story in 2020. After he announced his intentions to buy Twitter last year, he declared that “suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.”
Additionally, Musk launched the so-called “Twitter Files” late last year to expose the “free speech suppression” that the social media platform engaged in just ahead of the 2020 election. The very first thread in the series, which featured internal communications of Twitter executives, centered on the site’s decision to restrict the Hunter Biden story.
Twitter responded to a request for comment with the poop emoji, the site’s standard response ever since Musk fired the site’s entire press relations team.