Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, Yoel Roth, pushed internally for the company to ban Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots, despite messaging another employee that such a decision did not align with the company’s policies, according to the company’s internal documents published by author Michael Shellenberger Friday as part of Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files.”
An employee, whose name was redacted, messaged Roth around noon on Jan. 7, 2021, asking “What’s the latest on Antifa claims?” — seemingly in reference to a Jan. 6, 2021, tweet by Gaetz alleging that members of the anarchist movement Antifa had “infiltrated Trump protestors who stormed Capitol” — and noting that another employee, identified only as “C,” was “yelling from the other room that we should just ban Gaetz,” Shellenberger reported. Roth responded that Twitter had employees “working on that.”
“It doesn’t quite fit anywhere (duh),” Roth said, prompting agreement from the unnamed employee before he continued, according to the messages posted by Shellenberger. “But I’m trying to talk safety into treating it as incitement … I think we’ll get over the line for removal as a conspiracy that incites violence … [then-head of Legal, Policy and Trust] Vijaya [Gadde] was directionally okay with it.” (RELATED: ‘Slippery Slope’: Internal Docs Show Just One Twitter Employee Raising ‘Serious’ Free-Speech Concerns Over Trump Ban)
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…” pic.twitter.com/XRUFil2npI
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 11, 2022
Gaetz’ account was ultimately never banned, despite the internal discussions.
The discussion occurred roughly seven hours before Roth would inform a sales executive that Twitter was “changing [its] public interest approach for [Donald Trump’s] account to say any violation would result in a suspension,” Shellenberger reported. Twitter policy protects tweets from elected officials that would otherwise violate its rules under so-called “public-interest exceptions,” which allow tweets to remain live so that the public may be aware of and discuss the users’ “actions and statements.”
Gaetz later had a June 1, 2021 tweet that read “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” hit with one such public-interest label for violating Twitter’s rules regarding the glorification of violence. At time of writing, Twitter users cannot share, like or comment on that tweet, but can still “quote tweet” it.
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” the label reads at time of writing. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
Neither Twitter nor Gaetz’ office immediately responded to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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