Former Twitter trust and safety boss talks of ‘trauma’ suffered by content moderators/censors over J6

Billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and subsequent housecleaning at the San Francisco-based tech giant spurred the resignation of Trust and Safety head Yoel Roth who left the company last month and has been making the rounds as the media wages open warfare against the Tesla/SpaceX CEO.

Roth’s willingness to heap criticism upon the new ownership at his former employer laid it on thick during a recent appearance at the “Informed” conference on “conversations on democracy in the digital age” where portrayed Twitter censors as victims who were traumatized by the chaos at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

During his interview with journalist Kara Swisher on the decisions during his tenure at the company he was asked about decisions on banning then-President Donald J. Trump which he defended while offering up his defense of content moderators.

“So, it starts on the 6th but it also starts prior to that, in the weeks leading up…in the weeks before Election Day and January 6th, Twitter moderated hundreds -I think the final number leading up like a hundred and forty seven separate tweets from just @realDonaldTrump that violated various policies,” he said.

“Every morning it was a new tweet, much of it was recirculating some of the same narratives and all it was focused on the ultimately false claim that the 2020 election had been stolen,” he continued. “And so, we’re going into the events of the 6th and there’s that context, there’s the centrality of his account and…”

“So you let him get away with it for a long time,” interrupted Swisher, “in other words.”

Roth replied, “Well, we’d been enforcing on it so we restricted the tweets, we put warnings on them, you couldn’t like them, you couldn’t retweet them but we didn’t ban him because it was a relevant part of a moment in American politics.”

“The events of the 6th happened, and if you talk to the content moderators who worked on January 6th, myself included, the word that nearly everybody uses is trauma,” he said. “We experienced those events not some of us as Americans but not just as Americans who are citizens but people working on sort of how to prevent harm on the internet. We saw the clearest possible example of what it looked like for things to move from online to off.”

“We saw the way that rhetoric about a stolen election was being mobilized on sites like The Donald dot win, we saw the trafficking of the content in the fringe parts of the internet and we saw people dead in the Capitol,” he said.

Twitter users reacted to Roth’s claims about his emotionally fragile censors and their perceived trauma over free speech.

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Chris Donaldson


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