Project Veritas founder on Thursday told Fox News that he will sue Twitter for “defamation” after the platform permanently suspended his account over the alleged use of “fake accounts”.
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 spokesperson 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 sock puppet 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 exceptions, 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.
“This is false, this is defamatory, and they will pay,” O’Keefe said in a statement, which was sent through a Project Veritas spokesperson and posted to his Telegram account. “Section 230 may have protected them before, but it will not protect them from me.”
Project Veritas is known for carrying out hidden-camera stings on media outlets and left-wing groups, and it’s often accused of posting deceptive videos and spreading out-of-context claims (the group has denied these allegations). Most recently, the group released a string of videos targeting CNN: It leaked audio from months’ worth of CNN editorial meetings last year, and it posted videos of an apparent CNN staffer claiming the network deliberately tried to undermine former President Donald Trump and his allies.
Project Veritas was itself suspended from Twitter two months ago for violating the social network’s private information policy. O’Keefe was also temporarily locked out of his account at the time, but he was later reinstated.
If O’Keefe follows through on suing Twitter, it won’t be his first defamation suit. Project Veritas is currently suing the New York Times for calling one of its reports “deceptive,” and he threatened to sue CNN for similar reasons this week. It’s generally difficult for public figures to successfully sue for defamation in the United States because they need to prove the defendant acted with “actual malice,” or reckless disregard for the truth.
Twitter has kicked a range of right-wing figures off the platform this year, most notably Trump, who was permanently suspended from Twitter and virtually every other social network after a mob of his supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol three months ago. Plus, Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn were both banned from Twitter for posting QAnon-related content, Trump-supporting lawyer Lin Wood was banned after repeating false voter fraud claims, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was temporarily locked out for violating Twitter’s election integrity policy.
Twitter permanently suspended James O’Keefe’s personal account on the platform today, following a series of bombshell undercover videos of a CNN employee.
The tech giant dealt a blow to the First Amendment and did the unthinkable by removing the account saying, “You can’t mislead others on Twitter by operating fake accounts,” and “You can’t artificially amplify or disrupt conversations through the use of multiple accounts.”
O’KEEFE’S STATEMENT: “I am suing Twitter for defamation because they said I, James O’Keefe, ‘operated fake accounts.’ This is false, this is defamatory, and they will pay. Section 230 may have protected them before, but it will not protect them from me. The complaint will be filed Monday.”
This comes only months after Twitter suspended the accounts of both Project Veritas and Project Veritas Action. This also comes at a time when O’Keefe’s account was on the verge of reaching 1,000,000 followers. Project Veritas is also suing the New York Times.