New York Times writer and “The 1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones wants you to know that she scrubbed all of her Twitter activity before Tuesday because she “auto delete[s] my tweets at regular intervals now.”
It has nothing to do with the fact she doxed a reporter on her account. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that the tweet where she said she “inadvertently” posted his phone number was up as late as Monday night. Nor is related to the fact that Monday night was when The Times was reached for comment about the doxing.
None of this had anything to do with why Nikole Hannah-Jones scrubbed her old tweets. Just let’s be clear on that.
You’ve probably read Hannah-Jones’ name in the news a bit lately, too. It’s for reasons unrelated to the controversial “1619 Project,” a multimedia journalism series published by The New York Times Magazine that “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.” Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer for it.
Instead, there were questions regarding her role in the ouster of high-profile Times science writer Donald McNeil, who repeated a racial slur as part of a trip with high school students to Peru in 2019 after one of the students asked if another student should be suspended for his use of the N-word.
Hannah-Jones was, according to The Daily Beast, threatening to call the parents of the children on the trip to find out what had been said.
Hannah-Jones disputed some of what The Daily Beast reported about her role in the affair on Twitter. We can’t embed those tweets because, again, she’s since scrubbed her Twitter history. And not because she doxed a reporter, we want to remind you, but only because she auto-deletes old tweets, including in the middle of a major controversy. Just to be clear. (You can read the archived tweets here, though.)
In the midst of this imbroglio, Aaron Sibarium of The Washington Free Beacon reached out to Hannah-Jones for comment on a piece he was writing on how it was playing out inside a private Facebook Group for New York Times employees. Hannah-Jones was less-than-impressed by this, as she tweeted out the email Sibarium sent her — including his phone number.
“@aaronsibarium is apparently trying to scour Black NYT employees Twitter accounts to find them using the N-word in response to Don McNeil’s resignation, which is asinine on its face but also, homie, I don’t use the N-word causally so this is all he came up with. Keep trying tho,” she said in a Saturday tweet containing his email, in which Sibarium included several examples of her using the slur. (The New York Times’ policy on using racial slurs in venues outside of the newspaper was a central part of Sibarium’s piece, so perhaps not so asinine.)
She indicated knew the phone number had been included in her screenshot in the comments section of her tweet.
“Lol, and he included his phone number and thought you would actually call him,” commented Dr. Uché Blackstock, a medical contributor to Yahoo News.
“Girl,” Hannah-Jones responded, followed by a facepalm emoji.
Hannah-Jones has taken down the tweet that contained my phone number. I appreciate that.
But it took her over 24 hours to do so—and she clearly knew my number was out there. pic.twitter.com/EBdbPPwjpf
— Aaron Sibarium (@aaronsibarium) February 9, 2021
While I understand the Washington Free Beacon doesn’t necessarily have the gravitas The New York Times does — and it’s a conservative publication, to boot — posting someone’s contact information is in violation of the Twitter terms of service, which prohibit sharing “other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission.”
It’s also in violation of The New York Times’ social media usage guidelines: “Always treat others with respect on social media,” the guidelines read. “If you tweeted an error or something inappropriate and wish to delete the tweet, be sure to quickly acknowledge the deletion in a subsequent tweet.”
The tweet that contained Sibarium’s contact information was up for over 72 hours before it was deleted, and Hannah-Jones hasn’t issued an apology or acknowledged inappropriate behavior. Just in case you’re wondering, the apology didn’t fall through the cracks when she scrubbed her tweets, either — which, again, was only a matter of auto-deleting them. Please keep that in mind.
Also, please keep in mind that her tweeting Sibarium’s phone number was completely accidental, as Sibarium found out when he contacted The New York Times about it.
“We received your message about the fact that one of our journalists inadvertently posted Aaron’s number when she tweeted an email she received from him,” wrote Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy in an email. “She’s deleted that tweet.”
According to his Tuesday article, Murphy’s email was sent at 9:28 p.m. As of 9:24 p.m., four minutes earlier, Hannah-Jones’ tweet was still up. Seventy-one hours beforehand, she’d acknowledged the tweet contained Sibarium’s phone number in her response to Blackstock. However, please know Hannah-Jones posted this “inadvertently.” We wouldn’t wish to imply otherwise.
And remember, the fact her auto-delete happened between 9 p.m. on Monday and midday Tuesday had nothing to do with her doxing a reporter.
“Some of you may be aware, as I said this on here more than once, I auto delete my tweets at regular intervals now. This is an informal writing platform — it’s called social media. My permanent work gets published in articles. I don’t need to delete entire history over one tweet,” Hannah-Jones wrote Tuesday evening.
“I know people want to take credit for things that have nothing to do with them, but if I had already deleted a particular tweet, why would you think I’d need to delete all my unrelated tweets? I’m ever amused by this place.”
I know people want to take credit for things that have nothing to do with them, but if I had already deleted a particular tweet, why would you think I’d need to delete all my unrelated tweets? I’m ever amused by this place.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) February 10, 2021
Aren’t we all?
Of course, even free auto-delete tools allow you to scrub your Twitter history based on its age, allowing you to keep more recent tweets while weeding out older material.
I don’t claim to know why Hannah-Jones would have set her auto-delete to wipe everything prior to Feb. 9 from her Twitter timeline — particularly because of the monumental period it encapsulated, given the sturm und drang regarding the election, the Capitol incursion, the inauguration of Joe Biden and her role in the ouster of Donald McNeil — nor did she see fit to share her reason with the rest of us.
Just know that Hannah-Jones’ auto-delete cycle was felicitously set to happen sometime in-between when The Times acknowledged it was aware of the doxing at 9 p.m. Monday and midday Tuesday.
Also know that she has nothing to apologize for even though she violated the Twitter terms of service and The Times’ social media policy, and that her inclusion of Sibarium’s phone number in the screenshot was totally inadvertent despite the fact she later responded to a comment that said, “Lol, and he included his phone number and thought you would actually call him.”
I wouldn’t want you to take anything else away from my account of the matter.
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