Internal communications reveal how leaders were bending the rules to justify Trump’s permanent ban
Twitter executives, mostly on the left, were virtually unanimous in their belief that then-President Donald Trump should be permanently banned from the platform – their only concern was finding a pretext, the latest episode revealed “Twitter Files”.
Best-selling American author Michael Shellenberger continued to share the saga in a lengthy thread on Saturday evening, shedding light on the behind-the-scenes discussions following Trump’s January 6, 2021 temporary suspension.
According to an internal message, former Trust and Safety manager Yoel Roth tried to reassure concerned colleagues that other senior staff “are not satisfied with where we are” and were actively taking steps to pressure then-CEO Jack Dorsey. Despite emphasizing any user’s right to return from a temporary suspension, Dorsey ultimately endorsed a policy that would legitimize a permanent ban from Trump for “any” repeated violation.
“In this specific case, we are changing our public interest approach on his behalf,” Roth explained to a sales manager, who asked if that meant the company was dropping its official policy that allows content from elected officials even if it violates Twitter’s rules, while he “contributes directly to the understanding or discussion of a matter of public interest.”
What happens next is key to understanding how Twitter justified Trump’s ban. [policy] now…” Roth, six hours later: “In this case, we’re changing our public interest approach on his behalf…” pic.twitter.com/XRUFil2npI
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 11, 2022
In another letter, which Shellenberger describes as “a kind of test case for the justification of Trump’s ban”, Roth expressed irritation that Twitter couldn’t ban U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz over his alleged violation. “doesn’t quite fit anywhere (duh)” and speculated on a “removal as a plot that incites violence.”
Digging through the treasury of communications, reporters found a single unnamed junior staff member who on January 7 attempted to raise concerns that such a blatantly arbitrary decision by a global platform online who can “guardian speech for the whole world” could be a “slippery slope.”
By then, Facebook had already banned Trump, and with growing pressure on Twitter on January 8, the company proceeded to permanently ban the incumbent head of state, citing the “risk of incitement to violence” because of the way his tweets were “received and interpreted”.
Journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss began publishing the “Twitter Files” on an ongoing basis in conjunction with other journalists last week, after receiving direct permission from the platform’s new owner, Elon Musk.
The first batch of documents related to Twitter’s decision to ban a controversial New York Post article about the foreign business dealings of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
The “phantom ban” featured prominently in the second installation, showing that Twitter had engaged in the practice despite repeated denials. Friday’s scavenger hunt largely centered on Twitter executives increasingly collaborating with US federal agencies to crack down on what they saw as “misinformation” in the 2020 election. Taibbi is set to release another treasure sunday container “secret internal communications from the key date of January 8.”