The Twitter account of conservative activist Charlie Kirk was locked over the weekend for spreading misinformation about mail-in-ballots.
On Sunday, Mr Kirk, the founder and executive director of the right-wing student activism organisation Turning Point USA, told Fox News that he had lost access to his account.
He claimed that he was in a “hostage situation” with the social media platform, and shared a notification he received from Twitter that told him one of his tweets had violated rules “against posting misleading information about voting.”
Twitter also warned in the notification: “You may not post content providing false information about voting or registering to vote.”
In his tweet that was found to have broken Twitter’s rules, Mr Kirk falsely claimed: “Pennsylvania has just rejected 372,000 mail-in ballots.
“One voter was said to have submitted 11 duplicate ballots. Pennsylvania might be the key to winning the White House. What's going on?”
Pennsylvania was won by Donald Trump in 2016, but his Democratic challenger Joe Biden is leading the president in multiple polls ahead of 3 November’s election.
Mr Kirk’s tweet, which has now been removed, referred to a report from ProPublica that said that at least 372,000 mail-in-ballot applications in Pennsylvania had been rejected by officials in the state.
ProPublica reported that more than 90 per cent of the rejected ballot applications were duplicates, as some Pennsylvania residents accidentally requested more than one ballot.
This meant that thousands of residents had multiple requests for ballots rejected from state officials, but this did not affect them from receiving one to vote by mail with, according to Newsweek.
Mr Kirk, who has 1.8 million followers on Twitter, claimed in his tweet that 372,000 mail-in-ballots, instead of the applications, were rejected, which led to the social media platform locking his account over the weekend.
The 27-year-old is a supporter of Mr Trump, and claimed at the Republican National Convention in August that the president is “the bodyguard of western civilisation.”
Mr Trump has also heaped praise on Mr Kirk, and previously described the evangelical Christian as a “great warrior”.
Turning Point USA, which was founded in 2012, has proved controversial, and in 2018 the Anti-Defamation League reported that activists and people in leadership positions at the organisation “have made multiple racist or bigoted comments.”
Election officials and advocacy groups have been urging US residents to vote early this year in-person or via mail-in voting, because of fears of long queues forming on 3 November due to coronavirus measures.
However, Mr Trump has repeatedly falsely claimed over the last few months that mail-in-ballots lead to widespread fraud.
Twitter updated its civic integrity policy earlier this month to ban anyone from using its platform “for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections.”
This includes users “posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process.”
Twitter said that it will lock the accounts of users who violate the policy until they remove any offending tweet.
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