Twitter restricts Maxime Bernier’s account after he urged followers to ‘play dirty’ with journalists

Twitter has restricted People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier’s account, preventing him from posting any new messages until he takes down two tweets that encouraged his supporters to “play dirty” with journalists covering his campaign.

The offending tweets singled out three reporters, calling them “idiots” and describing their efforts to question him as “disgusting smear jobs.” Bernier tweeted out their email addresses and encouraged his followers to “play dirty.”

CTV journalist Christy Somos responded to the attacks online. In a tweet describing “what your inbox looks like after Bernier tweets about you,” Somos posted a screenshot of a threatening email she was sent.

In that email, someone who appears to be a PPC supporter says that they hope Somos is sexually assaulted and murdered and encourages her to kill herself.

After Bernier posted the email address of a Global News journalist who questioned him, Global reporter Ahmar Khan also posted a screenshot of a message he received that he described as both antisemitic and Islamophobic.

Twitter said in a statement that Bernier’s tweets violated the company’s private information policy by publishing the reporters’ email addresses.

Bernier’s account has been locked in read-only mode — which allows him to send and receive private messages and permits others to look at his account, but doesn’t allow him to tweet out messages himself.

Twitter said that Bernier’s account could be reactivated — in as little as 12 hours or as long as seven days — if he removes the tweets himself or successfully appeals Twitter’s decision.

The Canadian Association of Journalists published a screenshot of the Bernier tweets, saying that going after journalists “for doing their basic duty is unacceptable and dangerous behaviour.”

It remains unclear if Bernier published the offending tweets himself, if someone else in his party did so with his approval or if they were published without his involvement.

CBC News reached out to PPC spokesman Martin Masse for comment but has yet to receive a response.

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