Twitter Files #4 reveals that ‘external pressure’ from Michelle Obama, others preceded Trump ban

Much of the insight from the “Twitter Files” has come from juxtaposing what the public saw with what was going on behind the scenes and the latest installment put some focus on what former first lady Michelle Obama’s idea of “true patriotism” meant regarding then-President Donald Trump’s First Amendment rights.

On Saturday, journalist Michael Shellenberger made his addition to the work already put forth by Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss with the release of part four of the “Twitter Files.” The thread offered an examination of Twitter executives manipulation of policies in the wake of the Capitol breach on Jan. 6, 2021 to justify the permanent ban of Trump.

As it happened, that ban would not go into affect until public figures like Obama put the pressure on Big Tech to silence Trump. During the afternoon on Jan. 7, the former first lady took to Twitter to issue a lengthy statement attempting to delineate between the BLM riots of 2020 still referred to as “peaceful protests” with the isolated, and at the time still unclear, events of Jan. 6.

Thrusting the blame on the president, she wrote in part, “Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop enabling this monstrous behavior–and go even further than they have by permanently banning this man from their platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their technologies from being used by the nation’s leaders to fuel insurrection.”

“And if we have any hope of improving this nation,” she continued, “now is the time for swift and serious consequences for the failure of leadership that led to yesterday’s shame.”

This, she suggested, would be a show of “true patriotism.”

Shellenberger highlighted the words of Obama along with Kara Swisher, the Anti-Defamation League, and Chris Sacca as a few examples of those attempting to sway the social media platform into breaking their own rules on “public-interest exceptions.”

“But after the events of Jan 6, the internal and external pressure on Twitter CEO @jack grows,” the journalist wrote with screenshots of comments. “Former First Lady @michelleobama, tech journalist @karaswisher, @ADL, high-tech VC @ChrisSacca, and many others, publicly call on Twitter to permanently ban Trump.”

He went on to point out that Jack Dorsey was on vacation at the time and Yoel Roth, then Twitter’s Global Head of Trust and Safety, and Vijaya Gadde, then Head of Legal, Policy and Trust, had been left in charge of the matter.

Ahead of Obama’s statement, Dorsey had emailed employees that morning reminding them to remain consistent on policies “including,” as Shellenberger explained, “the right of users to return to Twitter after a temporary suspension.”

However, Roth appeared to be seeking a route to buck the policy and heed the pressures to silence Trump as internal messages included his saying, “Jack’s emails have been_fine_… but ultimately, I think people want to hear from Vijaya, or Del, or someone closer to the specifics of this who can reassure them that people who care about this are thinking deeply about these problems and aren’t happy with where we are.”

Minutes later a redacted response came, “I think there’s also an opportunity to help people undersant that, while it seems obvious and simple that we ‘should’ permaban his personal account, we can’t afford to take that immediate action without first ‘playing the movie out’ and anticipating all the other things that can happen, and then figure out the plans for those possible scenarios (e.g., if we suspend the personal account and he posts the same thing on the official government account, de we suspend that too?).”

Trump’s account would be permanently suspended the next day until nearly two years later when Elon Musk became owner of the social media platform.


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Kevin Haggerty


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