Mary McIntyre: astronomer gets Twitter account back after being banned over ‘pornographic’ meteor video

Mary McIntyre was banned from Twitter for video footage of the Perseid meteor (Images: Getty / Twitter)Mary McIntyre was banned from Twitter for video footage of the Perseid meteor (Images: Getty / Twitter)
Mary McIntyre was banned from Twitter for video footage of the Perseid meteor (Images: Getty / Twitter) | Getty / Twitter
Mary McIntrye said she could only get her Twitter account back by deleting the tweet but explained if she did she would be “agreeing that I had shared porn”

An astronomer was unable to access her Twitter account for three months after being accused of posting ‘pornographic’ content - of a meteor.

Mary McIntyre, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, posted the video footage of Perseid meteor on 13 August, but shortly after the video was flagged as displaying "intimate content shared without the consent of the participant".

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She was locked out of her account thereafter and could only re-access it if she would agree to delete the tweet - which would demonstrate an agreement that she had deliberately shared “pornographic” content.

She said: "I could only get my account back by deleting the tweet but if I did I would be agreeing that I had shared porn and that just left a bad taste. They have a rule - it’s a good rule - but I absolutely had not broken it."

Ms McIntyre, who tweets as @Spicey_Spiney, described how she couldn’t agree to having deliberately shared the content and knowingly broken Twitter’s rules as it could have had further consequences for her job, which involves giving talks in schools. "It could have been a serious problem as I have regular checks in order to work with school-aged children, explaining astronomy,” she said.

She added: "It could get me in trouble. I don’t really want it on my record that I’ve been sharing pornographic material when I haven’t. It’s not something I’m willing to have on my social media record."

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Ms McIntyre spent three months trying to contact Twitter to get her account back, but was unable to. The account remained on Twitter but was inactive. She said: "It was just radio silence. You can’t speak to a human."

It required an intervention from a friend who worked for the BBC, and the story going viral as a result, for her account to become accessible again. This allegedly happened randomly, and Ms McIntyre said: "So many people were tagging support for me and those tweets were getting deleted so clearly someone was seeing it. But there’s been no apology or explanation. It’s been so frustrating."

Twitter was recently bought by the world’s richest person Elon Musk, and a series of mass job cuts have taken place, including across most of the site’s employees based in the UK and many of their moderation staff.

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