What's this? This is an unbiased just-the-facts news summary about Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Matt Gaetz, Michael Schellenberger, The Twitter Files, The Twitter Files 3 & 4, Twitter, Vijaya Gadde and Yoel Roth. To see the full newsline, click the red tabs below or Learn more

11 Dec, 2022

The Twitter Files 4 – The Removal of Donald Trump (Post Jan 7)

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Following the release of The Twitter Files Part 3, which detailed senior Twitter staff’s actions up to January 7, 2021, Musk, through Shellenberger, releases The Twitter Files Part 4: The removal of Donald Trump: January 7. The files details how Twitter staff  created justifications and unique policy changes so they could ban President Trump from the platform, while having no consideration for free speech issues.

After Jan 6, Michelle Obama; tech journalist Kara Swisher; the Anti-Defamation League, and many others called for Trump to be banned from Twitter. At that time, CEO Jack Dorsey was on vacation in French Polynesia and left the handling to Yoel Roth (Global Head of Trust and Safety) and Vijaya Gadde (Head off Legal, Policy & Trust).

Schellenberger notes that in 2018, 2020, and 2022, 96%, 98%, & 99% of Twitter staff’s political donations went to Democrats and that Roth had previously tweeted that there were “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE”.

On Jan 7, Dorsey emails employees to say Twitter should remain consistent in its policies, including the right of users to return to Twitter after a temporary suspension. Around 11:30am PT Roth shares with colleagues that Dorsey had approved a system where five violations (“strikes”) would result in permanent suspension.

GUESS WHAT. Jack just approved repeat offender for civic integrity.

At this point, Trump had four strikes.

On Jan 8, Twitter announces a permanent ban on Trump due to the “risk of further incitement of violence”. Twitter says its ban is based on “specifically how [Trump’s tweets] are being received & interpreted”, despite the company saying in 2019 that it did “not attempt to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent.”

Shellenberger notes that the only serious concern expressed within Twitter over the implications for free speech and democracy of banning Trump came from a junior person in the organization.

This might be an unpopular opinion but one off ad hoc decisions like this that don’t appear rooted in policy are imho a slippery slope… This now appears to be a fiat by an online platform CEO with a global presence that can gatekeep speech for the entire world…

Roth then asks colleagues to add “stopthesteal” & [QAnon conspiracy term] “kraken” to a blacklist of terms to be deamplified. Roth’s colleague objects that blacklisting “stopthesteal” risks “deamplifying counterspeech” that validates the election. Other employees note that Kraken is the name of a cryptocurrency exchange and allowlist it. Other struggle with shared screenshots of Trump’s tweet.

Around noon, a confused senior executive in advertising sales sends a DM to Roth.

jack says: ‘we will permanently suspend [Trump] if our policies are violated after a 12 hour account lock’… what policies is jack talking about?”

Roth replies:

*ANY* policy violation

The executive then asks if Twitter is dropping its “Public-interest exceptions” policy, which allows the content of elected officials, even if it violates Twitter rules, “if it directly contributes to understanding or discussion of a matter of public concern”. Six hours later, at 7:18pm, Roth replies:

In this specific case, we’re changing our public interest approach for his account to say any violation would result in suspension.

At 12:27am Roth pushes for a permanent suspension of Rep. Matt Gaetz even though it

doesn’t quite fit anywhere (duh)…I’m trying to talk [Twitter’s] safety [team] into… removal as a conspiracy that incites violence.

Around 2:30, comms execs DM Roth to say they don’t want to make a big deal of the QAnon ban to the media because they fear “if we push this it looks we’re trying to offer up something in place of the thing everyone wants,” meaning a Trump ban.

After an engineer expresses concerns that Trump’s account is being treated differently to others, Roth says:

To put a different spin on it: policy is one part of the system of how Twitter works… we ran into the world changing faster than we were able to either adapt the product or the policy.”

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