Since joining Twitter in 2009, actor James Woods has posted more than 24,000 tweets — 24,028 to be exact. It is not unusual for Woods, a two-time Oscar nominee known to espouse his conservative views on the social media platform, to tweet upward of 10 times per day. In some recent instances, for example late last month, Woods’s daily tweet count has come closer to 50.
But on Friday, the 71-year-old’s verified account, which boasts 1.73 million followers, was abnormally quiet — not a single tweet from @RealJamesWoods. As the silence continued into the weekend, some began wondering, “Where is James Woods?”
Unlike his 2016 announcement that he was leaving Twitter over censorship, Woods’s current hiatus is not self-imposed. The actor was locked out of his account late last week because of a July 20 tweet that Twitter found violated its rules, the Associated Press reported Sunday. The tweet in question featured a hoax meme claiming to be from Democrats that told men not to vote in the midterm elections, according to the AP.
An account belonging to a woman named Sara Miller, who identified herself as Woods’s girlfriend, first tweeted the news early Friday morning with images of the email Woods received from Twitter. The email stated the July tweet “includes text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election,” and instructed Woods to delete the tweet before he can use his account again, according to Miller’s tweet.
Her tweet included a statement attributed to Woods, in which the actor called Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey a “coward,” adding, “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.”
The meme that Twitter appears to have taken issue with is a photo of three men with exaggerated smiles alongside the text, “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” It also used the hashtags #LetWomenDecide and #NoMenMidterm. In his tweet, Woods wrote, “Pretty scary there is a distinct possibility this could be real,” referencing the meme. “Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible…”
Miller shared an image of Woods’s tweet later on Friday, writing, “Retweet at your peril.” As of early Monday, Miller’s tweet had been retweeted more than 13,000 times.
Woods told the AP he will not delete the tweet, citing free speech.
“The irony is, Twitter accused me of affecting the political process, when in fact, their banning of me is the truly egregious interference,” he said. “Because now, having your voice smothered is much more disturbing than having your vocal cords slit. If you want to kill my free speech, man up and slit my throat with a knife, don’t smother me with a pillow.”
Twitter could not be reached for comment, but a representative told the AP that the company does not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons. According to Twitter’s rules, those who fail to adhere to its policies are subject to “enforcement actions,” which include requiring “prohibited content” to be deleted before users can resume activity and permanent account suspension.
Woods getting locked out of his account has fueled the ire of vocal, right-wing public figures who have long accused social media platforms of censoring popular conservative voices. Earlier this month, Twitter permanently banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his website, Infowars, for sharing content that violated its abuse policies, The Washington Post’s Tony Romm reported. The day before Jones’s accounts were shuttered, Dorsey addressed the accusations of bias during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. In his testimony, he stressed that “impartiality is our guiding principle.”
Known for his leading roles in films including Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” and Disney’s “Hercules,” Woods also won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his performance in the 1986 CBS television movie “Promise.”
Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative Media Research Center, described Woods as “one of the top conservatives” on Twitter.
The backlash over Woods’s situation was swift, as many felt his tweet didn’t deserve to be met with such a harsh punishment.
“Are you kidding me!” one Twitter user wrote. “That is the post????? Come on, Twitter! Seriously?”
Another person tweeted: “This is ridiculous. Twitter now officially sucks.”
Calls for Twitter to unlock Woods’s account and the hashtag #FreeJamesWoods have since flooded the social media platform.
On Saturday, before Woods spoke to the AP, his girlfriend, Miller, tweeted a copy of an email the actor sent to his friends that “expresses his feelings on the matter.”
“The reason I’m sending this to you is that, liberal or conservative, I know every single one of you agrees that this muzzle on free speech is a cancer,” Woods wrote, “that, if allowed to metastasize, will destroy this nation and everything it stands for.”
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