The Twitter Files 3 – The Removal of Donald Trump (Pre-Jan 6)
Musk, through Taibbi, releases the third installment of The Twitter Files, titled THE REMOVAL OF DONALD TRUMP Part One: October 2020-January 6th.
The world knows much of the story of what happened between riots at the Capitol on January 6th, and the removal of President Donald Trump from Twitter on January 8th. We’ll show you what hasn’t been revealed: the erosion of standards within the company in months before J6, decisions by high-ranking executives to violate their own policies, and more, against the backdrop of ongoing, documented interaction with federal agencies. This first installment covers the period before the election through January 6th.
3. We’ll show you what hasn’t been revealed: the erosion of standards within the company in months before J6, decisions by high-ranking executives to violate their own policies, and more, against the backdrop of ongoing, documented interaction with federal agencies.
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 9, 2022
Taibbi provides internal Twitter messages indicating that as the election approached, senior executives – perhaps under pressure from federal agencies, with whom they met more as time progressed – increasingly struggled with Twitter’s rules, and began to speak of “vios” (violations) as pretexts to do what they’d likely have done anyway.
As described in Twitter Files 2, a core group, working above and outside of Twitter’s standard content moderation rules, would make ad hoc decisions on VITs (Very Important Tweeters).
Messages from Yoel Roth (Head of Trust & Safety) show he met weekly with the FBI, DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Regarding the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story ban, Roth told those agencies:
We blocked the NYP story, then unblocked it (but said the opposite)… comms is angry, reporters think we’re idiots… in short, FML (f*ck my life).
Based on alerts sent by the FBI, Roth flagged tweets with warning labels. Taibbi says he could not find any such requests from Trump’s team or Republicans:
Examining the entire election enforcement Slack, we didn’t see one reference to moderation requests from the Trump campaign, the Trump White House, or Republicans generally. We looked. They may exist: we were told they do. However, they were absent here.
In addition to issues with Trump, Taibbi also recounts a long discussion about a joke made by Mike Huckabee about mailing in fake ballots and conversations promising to hit the actor James Woods “hard” in future, even though he had not violated any rules. Meanwhile, disputed pro-Biden tweets were approved.
Regarding Trump, Taibbi says that Twitter attached automated control “bots” to his account, which triggered automated moderation actions. Taibi says that all these bots and rules were abandoned on January 6.
The firm’s executives on day 1 of the January 6th crisis at least tried to pay lip service to its dizzying array of rules. By day 2, they began wavering. By day 3, a million rules were reduced to one: what we say, goes
Around 3:30 PST on Jan 6, Roth “bounced” (put in a 12 hr timeout) three of Trump’s tweets. A company-wide email was sent by Gadde explaining that future violations would result in a permanent suspension.
After Trump tweeted “Go home with love & in peace” mid-riot, Twitter staff wrote:
What the actual f*uck? Sorry, I actually got emotionally angry seeing that. Turns out I’m not a full robot. Who knew?
By the end of the first day, the top execs are still trying to apply rules. By the next day, they will contemplate a major change in approach.
Taibi says more files will be released over the coming days.
Woods is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards for portraying Dick Fuld on Too Big to Fail.