Twitter Files Part 4 Details Trump’s Permanent Ban From Platform
Twitter Files Part 4 Details Trump’s Permanent Ban From Platform

By Melanie Sun

Independent author Michael Shellenberger published Part 4 of the “Twitter Files” on Saturday night, following a week of significant revelations about the political activities that transpired under the former leadership of the influential social media company.

Shellenberger, an ecomodernist who publishes his writings on Substack, outlined in Part 4 of the Twitter files how company executives built their case for permanently banning former President Donald Trump from the platform on Jan. 7, 2021.

Shellenberger has had access to internal company communications outlining Twitter’s approach to information moderation during the times predating new CEO Elon Musk’s October takeover.

It comes after the release of Part 3 of the internal files on Friday by independent journalist Matt Taibbi, which exposed Twitter’s activities from before the 2020 election up to the chaotic breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Shellenberger said the internal communications showed that Twitter leadership had decided to pursue a change of policy “for Trump alone, distinct from other political leaders,” and that they expressed “no concern for the free speech or democracy implications of a ban.”

Shellenberger said that, following the events of Jan. 6, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was facing growing internal and external pressure to ban Trump from the platform.

Trump was demonized among Democrats, which was the political preference among most of Twitter’s staff and senior executives.

“In 2018, 2020, and 2022, 96%, 98%, & 99% of Twitter staff’s political donations went to Democrats,” Shellenberger said.

Voices pressuring Dorsey to remove Trump after the events of Jan. 6 included former First Lady Michelle Obama, tech journalist Kara Swisher, and the Jewish NGO Anti-Defamation League, among many others, Shellenberger noted.

As Dorsey was on vacation during the national crisis, he “delegated much of the handling of the situation” to senior execs at the time: Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former head of legal policy and trust.

Roth had publicly acknowledged his anti-Trump views on Twitter many times. He had posted in 2017 that there were “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE,” in reference to President Trump.

Shellenberger said Roth was “excited to share” that Dorsey approved a decision for Twitter to introduce a new policy that would allow it to permanently ban users who are considered a “repeat offender for civic integrity.”

“The new approach would create a system where five violations (‘strikes’) would result in permanent suspension,” according to Shellenberger.

“The exchange between Roth and his colleagues makes clear that they had been pushing Dorsey for greater restrictions on the speech Twitter allows around elections,” Shellenberger commented.

He cited what a member of Roth’s Trust and Safety Team wrote on Jan. 7 in response to Dorsey’s approval of the new policy: “Progress! Does this affect our approach to Trump, who I think that we publicly said had one remaining strike?

“Trump continues to have his one strike,” Roth responded. “This is for everything else.”

By the following day, Jan. 8,  Twitter announced a permanent ban on Trump, citing “risk of further incitement of violence.”

Shellenberger noted what appears to be a conflict in Twitter policy over time, such that while Twitter on Jan. 8 said Trump’s ban is based on “specifically how Trump’s tweets are being received & interpreted,” the social media giant back in 2019 said it did “not attempt to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent.”

Lower Level Employee Speaks Out

“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,” Shellenberger said. “It was tucked away in a lower-level Slack channel known as ‘site-integrity-auto.’”

The message from the junior employee reads: “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 – which seems unsustainable.”

Further details continue to be released.

Shortly following Trump’s ban, The Epoch Times reached out to Twitter asking whether it had any solid evidence that Trump’s statements were directly linked to any violence. Twitter did not respond.

Upon his takeover, Musk promised to provide transparency surrounding Twitter’s practices for managing information on the platform, following extensive complaints over censorship of political speech—allegations that leadership staff at Twitter have previously denied.

Regarding the unfolding insights from the internal communications, Musk said, “Twitter is both a social media company and a crime scene.”

During a conversation on Twitter spaces Saturday night, former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka said of the relevations, “The issue here is, will we have free elections again in America? This isn’t about Twitter: this is about Facebook, this is about TikTok, this is about whether or not we’re going to have elections based on truth anymore or whether they can micro target you with propaganda down to your profile on social media and whether the FBI is directing that—that’s the issue we should be talking about.

“The problem is, do we have the capacity to have representative government in a time where one political identity controls overtly and covertly the majority of information dissemination in our nation, if not the world?”


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