Originally published on ZeroHedge
The third installment of Elon Musk’s release of internal Twitter communications has been released, once again via veteran journalist Matt Taibbi.
In this episode, which is a 3-parter, we learn what happened behind the scenes which led to the banishment of former President Donald Trump from the platform.
2. 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…
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.
4. This first installment covers the period before the election through January 6th. Tomorrow, @ShellenbergerMDwill detail the chaos inside Twitter on January 7th. On Sunday, @bariweiss will reveal the secret internal communications from the key date of January 8th.
5. Whatever your opinion on the decision to remove Trump that day, the internal communications at Twitter between January 6th-January 8th have clear historical import.Even Twitter’s employees understood in the moment it was a landmark moment in the annals of speech.
6. As soon as they finished banning Trump, Twitter execs started processing new power. They prepared to ban future presidents and White Houses – perhaps even Joe Biden. The “new administration,” says one exec, “will not be suspended by Twitter unless absolutely necessary.”
7. Twitter executives removed Trump in part over what one executive called the “context surrounding”: actions by Trump and supporters “over the course of the election and frankly last 4+ years.” In the end, they looked at a broad picture. But that approach can cut both ways.
8. The bulk of the internal debate leading to Trump’s ban took place in those three January days. However, the intellectual framework was laid in the months preceding the Capitol riots.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. After J6, internal Slacks show Twitter executives getting a kick out of intensified relationships with federal agencies. Here’s Trust and Safety head Yoel Roth, lamenting a lack of “generic enough” calendar descriptions to concealing his “very interesting” meeting partners.
12. These initial reports are based on searches for docs linked to prominent executives, whose names are already public. They include Roth, former trust and policy chief Vijaya Gadde, and recently plank-walked Deputy General Counsel (and former top FBI lawyer) Jim Baker.
13. One particular slack channel offers an unique window into the evolving thinking of top officials in late 2020 and early 2021.
14. On October 8th, 2020, executives opened a channel called “us2020_xfn_enforcement.” Through J6, this would be home for discussions about election-related removals, especially ones that involved “high-profile” accounts (often called “VITs” or “Very Important Tweeters”).
15. There was at least some tension between Safety Operations – a larger department whose staffers used a more rules-based process for addressing issues like porn, scams, and threats – and a smaller, more powerful cadre of senior policy execs like Roth and Gadde.
16. The latter group were a high-speed Supreme Court of moderation, issuing content rulings on the fly, often in minutes and based on guesses, gut calls, even Google searches, even in cases involving the President.
17. During this time, executives were also clearly liaising with federal enforcement and intelligence agencies about moderation of election-related content. While we’re still at the start of reviewing the #TwitterFiles, we’re finding out more about these interactions every day.
18. Policy Director Nick Pickles is asked if they should say Twitter detects “misinfo” through “ML, human review, and **partnerships with outside experts?*” The employee asks, “I know that’s been a slippery process… not sure if you want our public explanation to hang on that.”
19. Pickles quickly asks if they could “just say “partnerships.” After a pause, he says, “e.g. not sure we’d describe the FBI/DHS as experts.”
20. This post about the Hunter Biden laptop situation shows that Roth not only met weekly with the FBI and DHS, but with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI):
21. Roth’s report to FBI/DHS/DNI is almost farcical in its self-flagellating tone: “We blocked the NYP story, then unblocked it (but said the opposite)… comms is angry, reporters think we’re idiots… in short, FML” (fuck my life).
23. Some of Roth’s later Slacks indicate his weekly confabs with federal law enforcement involved separate meetings. Here, he ghosts the FBI and DHS, respectively, to go first to an “Aspen Institute thing,” then take a call with Apple.
24. Here, the FBI sends reports about a pair of tweets, the second of which involves a former Tippecanoe County, Indiana Councilor and Republican named
@JohnBasham claiming “Between 2% and 25% of Ballots by Mail are Being Rejected for Errors.”
The FBI’s second report concerned this tweet by@JohnBasham:
25. The FBI-flagged tweet then got circulated in the enforcement Slack. Twitter cited Politifact to say the first story was “proven to be false,” then noted the second was already deemed “no vio on numerous occasions.”
26. The group then decides to apply a “Learn how voting is safe and secure” label because one commenter says, “it’s totally normal to have a 2% error rate.” Roth then gives the final go-ahead to the process initiated by the FBI:
27. 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.
31. In one case, former Arizona governor Mike Huckabee joke-tweets about mailing in ballots for his “deceased parents and grandparents.”
32. This inspires a long Slack that reads like an @TitaniaMcGrathparody. “I agree it’s a joke,” concedes a Twitter employee, “but he’s also literally admitting in a tweet a crime.”
The group declares Huck’s an “edge case,” and though one notes, “we don’t make exceptions for jokes or satire,” they ultimately decide to leave him be, because “we’ve poked enough bears.”
33. “Could still mislead people… could still mislead people,” the humor-averse group declares, before moving on from Huckabee
33. Roth suggests moderation even in this absurd case could depend on whether or not the joke results in “confusion.” This seemingly silly case actually foreshadows serious later issues:
34. In the docs, execs often expand criteria to subjective issues like intent (yes, a video is authentic, but why was it shown?), orientation (was a banned tweet shown to condemn, or support?), or reception (did a joke cause “confusion”?). This reflex will become key in J6.
35. In another example, Twitter employees prepare to slap a “mail-in voting is safe” warning label on a Trump tweet about a postal screwup in Ohio, before realizing “the events took place,” which meant the tweet was “factually accurate”:
36. “VERY WELL DONE ON SPEED” Trump was being “visibility filtered” as late as a week before the election. Here, senior execs didn’t appear to have a particular violation, but still worked fast to make sure a fairly anodyne Trump tweet couldn’t be “replied to, shared, or liked”:
“VERY WELL DONE ON SPEED”: the group is pleased the Trump tweet is dealt with quickly
37. A seemingly innocuous follow-up involved a tweet from actor @realJamesWoods, whose ubiquitous presence in argued-over Twitter data sets is already a #TwitterFilesin-joke.
38. After Woods angrily quote-tweeted about Trump’s warning label, Twitter staff – in a preview of what ended up happening after J6 – despaired of a reason for action, but resolved to “hit him hard on future vio.”
39. Here a label is applied to Georgia Republican congresswoman Jody Hice for saying, “Say NO to big tech censorship!” and, “Mailed ballots are more prone to fraud than in-person balloting… It’s just common sense.”
40. Twitter teams went easy on Hice, only applying “soft intervention,” with Roth worrying about a “wah wah censorship” optics backlash:
41. Meanwhile, there are multiple instances of involving pro-Biden tweets warning Trump “may try to steal the election” that got surfaced, only to be approved by senior executives. This one, they decide, just “expresses concern that mailed ballots might not make it on time.”
To read the rest, click on the tweet above.
Stay tuned for part II tomorrow…
The third installment of Elon Musk’s release of internal Twitter communications is devoted to the days surrounding the social media company’s decision to permanently ban President Trump.
Yesterday, we detailed part 1 – via veteran journalist Matt Taibbi, which focused on the period leading up to January 6th, including details about Twitter executives regular meetings with the FBI and DHS.
Today, in part 2, Michael Shellenberger reveals the chaos that ran wild inside Twitter on January 7th, as the same executives took decisions into their own hands to reassure ‘a few engineers’ that “someone is doing something about this.”
The Removal of Donald Trump: January 7
As the pressure builds, Twitter executives build the case for a permanent ban.
On Jan 7, senior Twitter execs:
- create justifications to ban Trump
- seek a change of policy for Trump alone, distinct from other political leaders
- express no concern for the free speech or democracy implications of a ban
This #TwitterFiles is reported with @lwoodhouse
But after the events of Jan 6, the internal and external pressure on Twitter CEO @jack grows.
Former First Lady @michelleobama…
… tech journalist @karaswisher…
…high-tech VC @ChrisSacca, and many others, publicly call on Twitter to permanently ban Trump.
Dorsey was on vacation in French Polynesia the week of January 4-8, 2021. He phoned into meetings but also delegated much of the handling of the situation to senior execs @yoyoel , Twitter’s Global Head of Trust and Safety, and @vijaya Head of Legal, Policy, & Trust.
As context, it’s important to understand that Twitter’s staff & senior execs were overwhelmingly progressive.
In 2018, 2020, and 2022, 96%, 98%, & 99% of Twitter staff’s political donations went to Democrats.
In 2017, Roth tweeted that there were “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.”
In April 2022, Roth told a colleague that his goal “is to drive change in the world,” which is why he decided not to become an academic.
On January 7, @jack emails employees saying Twitter needs to remain consistent in its policies, including the right of users to return to Twitter after a temporary suspension
After, Roth reassures an employee that “people who care about this… aren’t happy with where we are”
Around 11:30 am PT, Roth DMs his colleagues with news that he is excited to share.
“GUESS WHAT,” he writes.
“Jack just approved repeat offender for civic integrity.”
The new approach would create a system where five violations (“strikes”) would result in permanent suspension.
“Progress!” exclaims a member of Roth’s Trust and Safety Team.
The exchange between Roth and his colleagues makes clear that they had been pushing @jack for greater restrictions on the speech Twitter allows around elections.
he colleague wants to know if the decision means Trump can finally be banned. The person asks, “does the incitement to violence aspect change that calculus?”
Roth says it doesn’t. “Trump continues to just have his one strike” (remaining).
Roth’s colleague’s query about “incitement to violence” heavily foreshadows what will happen the following day.
On January 8, Twitter announces a permanent ban on Trump due to the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
On J8, Twitter says its ban is based on “specifically how [Trump’s tweets] are being received & interpreted.”
But in 2019, Twitter said it did “not attempt to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent.”
The *only* serious concern we found expressed within Twitter over the implications for free speech and democracy of banning Trump came from a junior person in the organization.
It was tucked away in a lower-level Slack channel known as “site-integrity-auto.”
“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…”
Twitter employees use the term “one off” frequently in their Slack discussions. Its frequent use reveals significant employee discretion over when and whether to apply warning labels on tweets and “strikes” on users.
Here are typical examples.
Recall from #TwitterFiles2 by @bariweiss that, according to Twitter staff, “We control visibility quite a bit. And we control the amplification of your content quite a bit. And normal people do not know how much we do.”
Twitter employees recognize the difference between their own politics & Twitter’s Terms of Service (TOS), but they also engage in complex interpretations of content in order to stamp out prohibited tweets, as a series of exchanges over the “#stopthesteal” hashtag reveal.
Roth immediately DMs a colleague to ask that they 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.
Indeed, notes Roth’s colleague, “a quick search of top stop the steal tweets and they’re counterspeech”
But they quickly come up with a solution: “deamplify accounts with stopthesteal in the name/profile” since “those are not affiliated with counterspeech”
But it turns out that even blacklisting “kraken” is less straightforward than they thought. That’s because kraken, in addition to being a QAnon conspiracy theory based on the mythical Norwegian sea monster, is also the name of a cryptocurrency exchange, and was thus “allowlisted”
Employees struggle with whether to punish users who share screenshots of Trump’s deleted J6 tweets
“we should bounce these tweets with a strike given the screen shot violates the policy”
“they are criticising Trump, so I am bit hesitant with applying strike to this user”
What if a user dislikes Trump *and* objects to Twitter’s censorship? The tweet still gets deleted. But since the *intention* is not to deny the election result, no punishing strike is applied.
“if there are instances where the intent is unclear please feel free to raise”
Around noon, a confused senior executive in advertising sales sends a DM to Roth.
Sales exec: “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: “*ANY* policy violation”
What happens next is essential to understanding how Twitter justified banning Trump…
Sales exec: “are we dropping the public interest [policy] now…”
Roth, six hours later: “In this specific case, we’re changing our public interest approach for his account…”
The ad exec is referring to Twitter’s policy of “Public-interest exceptions,” 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”
Roth pushes for a permanent suspension of Rep. Matt Gaetz even though it “doesn’t quite fit anywhere (duh)”
It’s a kind of test case for the rationale for banning Trump.
“I’m trying to talk [Twitter’s] safety [team] into… removal as a conspiracy that incites violence.”
The evening of January 7, the same junior employee who expressed an “unpopular opinion” about “ad hoc decisions… that don’t appear rooted in policy,” speaks up one last time before the end of the day.
Earlier that day, the employee wrote, “My concern is specifically surrounding the unarticulated logic of the decision by FB. That space fills with the idea (conspiracy theory?) that all… internet moguls… sit around like kings casually deciding what people can and cannot see.”
The employee notes, later in the day, “And Will Oremus noticed the inconsistency too…,” linking to an article for OneZero at Medium called, “Facebook Chucked Its Own Rulebook to Ban Trump.”
“The underlying problem,” writes @WillOremus , is that “the dominant platforms have always been loath to own up to their subjectivity, because it highlights the extraordinary, unfettered power they wield over the global public square…
“… and places the responsibility for that power on their own shoulders… So they hide behind an ever-changing rulebook, alternately pointing to it when it’s convenient and shoving it under the nearest rug when it isn’t.”
“Facebook’s suspension of Trump now puts Twitter in an awkward position. If Trump does indeed return to Twitter, the pressure on Twitter will ramp up to find a pretext on which to ban him as well.”
Indeed. And as @bariweiss will show tomorrow, that’s exactly what happened.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- “My Jaw Hit The Floor” – Musk Fires Twitter’s ‘FBI-Russiagate’ Lawyer Over Vetting Debacle
- Greenwald Drags MSM Journos For ‘Hive-Mind’ Hackery Over Taibbi-Twitter Bombshell
- Musk: Twitter Has “Interfered In Elections”
When a political system is just, honest and strong, POSITIVE, it doesn’t need to censor, and tell falsehoods and many lies, and make many complaints. What does it mean what they do in America? But that the current System of the evil masters of the West has fears, uncertainties and is agitated. In short, it is collapsing, it won’t hold up much longer internal pressures and external defeats. Wishing you a beautiful sunset.
We live in a dishonest country where the mental equivalent of schoolchildren decide how and when to break the founding laws of America and who they will target next. There is no rule of law when tjis type of lawlessness is supported by the State and no actions to protect the Constitutional government occur. This is the equivalent of undisguised Tyranny identical to Lenin in his summation of “power, unrestricted by law and based upon force”.
Petty tyrants constantly adjusting their policies to achieve political goals dictated by the FBI ,Jack Dorsey and the ruling cabal with the daring to pull off the vaccine scam and ban POTUS to the peril of their credibility and in so doing require a reset of twitter and more subtle techniques to maintain their dominance and credibility in the media and evade justice.
who cares he was and is a Thief a Liar a Rapist and a Stupid oaf
Trump was a baboon, but the way he was prevented from exercising the functions he was elected to, and then silenced. It’s just shocking really. Democracy my ass. What a banana republic.
Come on John, Trump a baboon ? Since the 1990’s, the US has been involved in every crime against humanity on this Planet, whether it was in Irag, Yugoslavia, 911, Iraq again, Syria, Lybia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan to name a few. You , The People of USa, you have a predisposition to elect Warmonger, Liar, pedophile, satanist,drug addict or a traitor. You had a President, Trump, who had none of those characteristics and didn’t even belong to those corrupt politicians AND wanted to make america back as it was created by your Founding Fathers, a Republic free of tyranny and big government and a prosper economy. You had a chance with your so-called Baboon, to make America the Beacon of Freedom as you were and destroy your DC swamp, but you betrayed him for a…..Stolen Presidency. NOW today , more than ever , you are the Empire of Evil, Russia the beacon of freedom. The irony of history.
You are another who apparently knows absolutely nothing about Trump, who he is and who he works for. If you believe the baloney you posted, then William Casey’s prediction has come true. Both Trump’s parents were involved with intel, mafia. Trump was in bed (and quite likely, literally) with possibly the most powerful person in the US for years, right along side of Epstein. They both referred to him as their mentor, their words, not mine. His name is Roy Cohn. IF you don’t know who he is, then you are woefully ignorant. Just what do you think that Epstein was doing anyway? Kids for pedos for no reason? The Orange Baboon was nothing more, nothing less, an Israeli Trojan Horse. Did he go after Hillary? Did he go after Soros? Did he continue and up the ante in Venezuela, trying to impose an impostor on them? How did Morales get removed? How about Yemen and the huge KSA weapons deal? When did he out what was going on in Ukr, for 4 years? Never, he had the Biden crap to cover it with. Get over your delusion, Trump is part and parcel to the plan. He proved it when during his first campaign when he referred to the ‘dancing Israelis’ as dancing Arabs. He was right on board. Deal with it. Forget the gifts to Israel while you are at it, they’re inconsequential, right?