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Twitter bans Wired reporter over hacking story

The banishment of Dell Cameron to the digital equivalent of purgatory is the latest assault on reporters by Twitter.

The banishment of Dell Cameron to the digital equivalent of purgatory is the latest assault on reporters by Twitter.

Wired journalist Dell Cameron (left) poses with filmmaker Brian Knappenberger at an event in 2017. (Photo by Dell Cameron via Facebook)
Wired journalist Dell Cameron (left) poses with filmmaker Brian Knappenberger at an event in 2017. (Photo by Dell Cameron via Facebook)

A Wired reporter has been permanently suspended from the social media platform Twitter after writing a story on the compromise of an account belonging to a conservative podcaster.

The story, published by Wired on Wednesday, explained how a hacker called Doomed was able to compromise the Twitter account of the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro earlier in the week. The Desk is not publishing specific details about the compromise, but the Wired article is available here.

Shortly after the article was published, Cameron received a message from Twitter informing him that his profile was “permanently suspended” for violating the company’s policy on distributing hacked materials.

“We don’t permit the use of our services to directly distribute content obtained through hacking that contains private information, may put people in physical harm or danger, or contains trade secrets,” the warning read.

Nothing in Cameron’s Wired story appeared to contain material or information that violated Twitter’s policy. On Wednesday, Wired managing editor Hemal Jhaveri said the company has not received more information about why Cameron’s account was suspended, and that the news outlet doesn’t believe the article violated the social media platform’s rules.

“We ask that the account be reinstated, and that Twitter provide an explanation,” Jhaveri said.

Cameron has covered hackers and cybersecurity for more than a decade. His first articles were published by Vice Media in 2013; he later joined The Kernel — which was owned by British political commentator and known right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos — until the publication was sold to Texas-based website the Daily Dot, at which point Cameron moved to that outlet.

He left the Daily Dot for Gawker in 2017, where he continued covering matters at the intersection of technology, policy and security (including this story about a Twitter account that was permanently banned for distributing secret police files through the platform). He was hired by Wired just four months ago, where he continues to cover security and tech-related issues.

Throughout his career, Cameron has tweeted links to his various stories and scoops without any blowback — that is, until this week, when he apparently drew the ire of Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, who has espoused controversial political views that somewhat align with those promoted by Walsh.

It wasn’t clear if Twitter’s decision to ban Cameron came at Walsh’s request. (Walsh, now in control of his account, complained that Cameron and Wired “directly solicited stolen material from my phone.” Images from Cameron’s account before it was suspended purportedly show him asking people to “send matt walsh dms” [sic] to his work e-mail address.) Twitter’s communications team has been unavailable since Musk fired the group in late October; an e-mail address used by reporters who reach out to Twitter for information has automatically responded with a picture of poop for weeks.

Cameron’s banishment is the latest aggressive act by Twitter and Musk against the news media since he bought the social media platform for $44 billion last year. In December, Twitter banned several accounts used by high-profile journalists over links to stories about a personal jet used by Musk. Over the last few weeks, Twitter has placed controversial and misleading labels on the profiles of some news organizations that wrongly claim the outlets are “state-affiliated” or “government-funded.”

Cameron appears to be taking the matter in stride: On Wednesday, he became more active on Mastodon, where he is a member of the controversial server. There, he wrote that his article on the Walsh hack “was one of our most-read stories today, with more traffic originating from Twitter than my editor has seen in a year.”

“Thanks for all the well-wishes, folks,” he wrote in a separate message. “And, yes, it does feel great.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).