British Astronomer Accused Of Posting “Intimate” Video Of Meteor Gets Twitter Account Reinstated

Twitter flagged a video of a meteor as “intimate content”.

A British astronomer whose Twitter account was suspended for three months over a video of a meteor has now been reinstated. Mary McIntyre, an astronomer from Oxfordshire, had tweeted a video of the trail from a meteor of the Perseid meteor shower in August. Her account was locked soon after, with Twitter telling her the clip contained “intimate” content that she shared without a participant’s consent, as per The Guardian

Now, on Thursday, she tweeted the details of her exile from the social media platform. “I’m back!!!!!!!!!” she announced, adding, “After 3 months of being blocked due to my Perseid meteor video being flagged as intimate media, I wasn’t able to get my account back unless I admitted to breaking the rule.”

Ms McIntyre’s account was unlocked after the BBC highlighted her situation and several Twitter users tweeted the platform’s support team. Speaking to the outlet, she revealed that her account was initially only banned for 12 hours and Twitter had offered to reinstate her access if she deleted the tweet and agreed that she had broken the guidelines on intimate images. 

But Ms McIntyre refused to agree that she had broken any rules or done anything in breach of the guidelines as she was worried about the implications for her outreach work with children. “It’s just crazy… I don’t really want it on my record that I’ve been sharing pornographic material when I haven’t,” she said. 

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The BBC reported that during her social media suspension, the British astronomer’s account was visible but she couldn’t access it, causing her to feel “cut off from the astronomy world”. But thankfully, after three months, her account was reinstated on Thursday. 

Ms McIntyre’s account still contains the meteor video, which she presumes was wrongly flagged by Twitter’s automated moderation system. “I don’t see how a human moderator could have been offended by it so I presume it was artificial intelligence,” she said. 

Meanwhile, this comes amid a time when Twitter is undergoing a myriad of changes. Ever since Elon Musk took over the company last month, he has fired about 50% of Twitter’s staff. The company’s head of trust and safety also resigned, shortly after tweeting that 15% of trust and safety workers at the business had been fired. 

In the wake of all this, Ms McIntyre stated that she had not expected to have access returned. She said that she had trouble getting in touch with anyone at Twitter about her account both before and after Mr Musk’s acquisition. 

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