Twitter Files #4: Execs pursue ‘change of policy for Trump alone,’ ‘create justification’ for permanent ban

Released Saturday, the next installment of the “Twitter Files” details how, after years of resisting calls to ban then-President Donald Trump, Twitter purposefully changed its policies after the Jan. 6th riot to justify permanently banning the then-president.

The installment begins with journalist Michael Shellenberger noting that on Jan. 7, senior Twitter executives “create justifications to ban Trump… seek a change of policy for Trump alone, distinct from other political leaders… [and] express no concern for the free speech or democracy implications of a ban.”

The installment shows that following the Jan. 6th riot, a number of high-profile voices — including former first lady Michelle Obama — began actively pressuring Twitter to permanently ban Trump.

Away on vacation at the time, then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded on Jan. 7th by delegating the issue to Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Global Head of Trust and Safety, and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust.

As previously reported, both Roth and Gadde are far-leftists.

However, before signing off completely and returning to his vacation, Dorsey issued a memo reminding employees that temporary Twitter suspensions are temporary — and that any Twitter user who’s suspended temporarily is eventually allowed to return.

Displeased over this policy, Roth then — from the sounds of it — persuaded Dorsey to modify the policy to make it so that anyone temporarily suspended for a total of five times is permanently banned for their habitual violations.

This is extremely important because at the time, Trump already had four temporary suspensions on his record, meaning he was just one suspension away from a ban.

Fast-forward to Jan. 8th, when Twitter suspended Trump again due to the “risk of further incitement of violence,” thus permanently banning him from the platform.

After Trump’s suspension, only one Twitter employee reportedly raised any concerns about the then-president of the United States being permanently banned.

“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 and reflect an alternatively equally dictatorial problem. This now appears to be a fiat by an online platform CEO with a global presence that can gatekeep speech for the entire world — which seems unsustainable,” the dissident employee writes in an internal chat board.

IMHO is short for “in my honest opinion.”

After banning Trump, Twitter employees moved on to silencing any and all talk of the 2020 presidential election being stolen from the then-President. For instance, they sought to “deamplify” the hashtag #StopTheSteal and the term “kraken.”

They also started targeting users who were posting screenshots of the president’s final pre-ban tweets, like one in which he’d excused the Jan. 6th riots.

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” that particular tweet had read.

The next installment of the “Twitter Files” will reportedly drop Sunday evening. As for the previous installment, it dropped Friday evening and delved into the events preceding the infamous Jan. 8th, 2021 de-platforming of Donald Trump.

According to journalist Matt Taibbi, while the “internal debate” over banning Trump took place between Jan. 6th and Jan. 8th, “the intellectual framework was laid in the months preceding the Capitol riots.”

“Before J6, Twitter was a unique mix of automated, rules-based enforcement, and more subjective moderation by senior executives. As reported, the firm had a vast array of tools for manipulating visibility, most all of which were thrown at Trump (and others) pre-J6,” Taibbi reported.

“As the election approached, senior executives – perhaps under pressure from federal agencies, with whom they met more as time progressed – increasingly struggled with rules, and began to speak of ‘vios’ as pretexts to do what they’d likely have done anyway,” he added.

The veritable beginning of the end for Trump started on Oct. 8th, when Twitter executives opened a channel on the workplace chat app Slack called “us2020_xfn_enforcement.”

Taibbi explains that from then on and through the Jan. 6th riot, the channel “would be home for discussions about election-related removals, especially ones that involved ‘high-profile’ accounts (often called ‘VITs’ or ‘Very Important Tweeters’).”

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