New revelations about the past maneuvers of the social network. Elon Musk helped reveal the deliberations and then the decisions that led Twitter to delete the account of Donald Trump, then still president.
The latest revelations, published on December 10, stopped on January 6, 2021, the day of the assault on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump, 48 hours before the no less fateful deletion of Donald Trump’s Twitter account. On December 12, Elon Musk shared startling new information, tweeted at length by American journalist Bari Weiss, founder of the media The Free Press.
“Under pressure from hundreds of activist employees, Twitter removed Trump, a sitting US president, from the platform, despite themselves admitting that he had not violated the rules”, summed up the truculent billionaire , leaving the floor to Bari Weiss. In a succession of 45 tweets, this one delivered the underside of an intensely political decision taken by the leaders of the social network.
Under pressure from hundreds of activist employees, Twitter deplatforms Trump, a sitting US President, even though they themselves acknowledge that he didn’t violate the rules: https://t.co/60PplztV4k
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 12, 2022
“After January 6, pressure grew, both inside and outside of Twitter, to ban Trump,” reports the journalist, noting several “dissidents” opposed to such censorship. “Minority voices” nevertheless notes Weiss: “Perhaps because I am from China, I deeply understand how censorship can destroy public conversation,” wrote an employee on the company’s internal messaging system. “I understand this fear^^ [mais] being censored by the government is very different from being censored by the government,” replied a colleague.
No doubt for employees: Trump incited violence
The employees thus organized themselves to ask their employer to banish the future ex-president, defeated by Joe Biden on November 3, 2020. “Is there any chain or group [sur la messagerie] where we could organize more action?” asked one of them.
At the heart of the dispute, the tweets of the President, accused of being an “incitement to violence” by his detractors within the firm. Trump had indeed tweeted to encourage his supporters to “go to the Capitol [le Parlement américain]calling the election a “fraud” and refusing to concede defeat.
The Republican will only admit “the orderly transition” on January 7, while declaring to be “in complete disagreement with the results of the election”, the day after the battle for the Capitol, and after the vote of the electors interrupted by the ‘assault.
Twitter accused of complicity in an insurrection
On the morning of January 8, the Washington Post published an open letter, signed by 300 Twitter employees and addressed to CEO Jack Dorsey, demanding the banishment of the 45th President of the United States. “We must examine Twitter’s complicity in what President-elect Biden has correctly called an insurrection,” the employees further accused.
12. But the Twitter staff assigned to evaluate tweets quickly concluded that Trump had *not* violated Twitter’s policies. “I think we’d have a hard time saying this is incitement,” wrote one staffer.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) December 12, 2022
The team in charge of evaluating the tweets of Donald Trump doubted, as reported by Bari Weiss, the possibility of qualifying the offending tweets as incitement to violence. In particular, the message of Donald Trump indicating that he would not go to the nomination of Joe Biden. “People might say that’s proof that he doesn’t support a peaceful transition,” an executive replied.
18. Next, Twitter’s safety team decides that Trump’s 7:44 am ET tweet is also not in violation. They are unequivocal: “it’s a clear no vio. It’s just to say he’s not attending the inauguration” pic.twitter.com/zdxSsG1UBS
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) December 12, 2022
Bari Weiss points out here that Twitter policy did not lead the network in June 2018 to delete the Tweet or ban Ayatollah Khamenei for calling Israel an “evil cancerous tumor that must be eradicated.” Conversely, the network had deleted the October 2020 post of a former Malaysian prime minister writing that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”, without banning it. .
Leaders bow under pressure
“But Twitter executives banned Trump, despite key staff members saying Trump didn’t incite violence, even in a ‘coded’ way,” Weiss then sums up, before telling how the atmosphere has quickly degenerated.
“Multiple Tweeps [employés de Twitter] quoted the Banality of Evil [un livre de la philosophe Hannah Arendt sur le nazisme] suggesting that the people implementing our policies are like Nazis following orders”, observed Yoel Roth, director of the Trust and Security Council, supposed to ensure “the serenity” of the discussions on the platform.
The decision to ban Trump was therefore taken on January 8, a measure justified by “the risk of further incitement to violence”. “Many of us at Twitter were ecstatic,” Weiss describes. And this one to conclude: “the fears in the face of Twitter’s efforts to censor information on Hunter Biden’s computer, to blacklist unfavorable views, and to banish a president, (…) relate to the power of a handful of people in a private enterprise to influence public discourse and democracy”.
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