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Twitter Files Part 4 Drop showing leaders’ approach to ‘policy change for Trump alone’

This article will be updated as the story develops…

Twitter CEO Elon Musk and freelance journalist Michael Shellenberger released another slice of internal Twitter files with this latest batch highlighting the chaos within the company in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. .

“The impeachment of Donald Trump: January 7”, author Shellenberger posted saturday night as part of a larger thread. “As pressure mounts, Twitter executives plead for permanent ban.”

“On January 7, senior Twitter executives: – create justifications for banning Trump – seek policy change for Trump alone, separate from other political leaders – express no concern about the implications of a ban on the freedom of ‘expression or democracy. This #TwitterFiles is reported with @lwoodhouse,” read the first post.


FILE – In this Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Shellenberger’s thread begins by showing how Twitter employees had previously resisted calls to ban Trump from the platform, but then explained how they lobbied for it as calls to ban Trump escalated.

Referenced Shellenberger public calls of former First Lady Michelle Obama and many other figures calling for Trump’s January 7 ban.

The following message indicated that Twitter’s CEO at the time, Jack Dorsey, was on vacation and had delegated much of the responsibility to senior executives, including Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel. Roth, who Shellenberger said was “extremely progressive”.


Twitter Files Part 4 Drop showing leaders' approach to 'policy change for Trump alone'

(Patrick Pluel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“In 2017 Roth tweeted that there were ‘REAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE,'” Shellenberger wrote. “In April 2022, Roth told a colleague that his goal ‘is to lead change in the world,’ which is why he has decided not to become an academic.”

The thread goes on to say that Dorsey emailed employees on Jan. 7 telling them they must “stay consistent” with policies “including users’ right to return to Twitter after a temporary suspension.”

After that email, a screenshot shows Roth reassuring an employee that “people who care about this… aren’t happy where we are.”

“Around 11:30 a.m. PT, Roth sends his co-workers news that he is excited to share,” Shellenberger tweeted. “‘GUESS WHAT,’ he wrote. ‘Jack just endorsed a repeat offender for his civic integrity.’ The new approach would create a system where five violations (“strikes”) would result in a permanent suspension.”

“Progress!” a member of Roth’s team responds that Shellenberger writes “makes it clear that they had been pushing ‘Dorsey for “greater restrictions on the speech that Twitter allows around the election.”

A colleague then asks Roth if this decision means that Trump can be banned given that Trump had a “strike remaining”.

“Does the incitement to violence aspect change that calculation?” The employee wrote to which Roth replied that it did not and that Trump continues to have one strike remaining.

“That’s for everything else,” Roth said.

Shellenberger then wrote that the question from Roth’s colleague “strongly foreshadows what will happen the next day”.

“On January 8, Twitter announces a permanent ban on Trump due to ‘risk of further incitement to violence,'” Shellenberger wrote.

“On J8, Twitter says its ban is based on ‘specifically how [Trump’s tweets] are received and interpreted,” continues Shellenberger. But in 2019, Twitter said it had “not attempted to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent.”

Shellenberger wrote that the “only” post from a Twitter employee expressing deep concern on the potential free speech ramifications of Trump’s ban came from a junior employee who said it was a “slippery slope” to make “one-off” decisions that “don’t seem rooted in the Politics”.


Shellenberger provided examples of Twitter employees use the term “unique” in Slack discussions, which he said “reveals significant employee discretion over when and whether to apply tweet warning labels and “strikes” on users”.

“Twitter employees recognize the difference between their own policy and Twitter’s Terms of Service, but they also engage in complex interpretations of content to weed out banned tweets, as revealed in a series of exchanges on the hashtag “#stopthesteal”, ” Shellenberger thread added.

“Roth immediately DMs a co-worker asking him to add ‘stopthesteal’ and [QAnon conspiracy term] ‘kraken’ has a blacklist of terms to de-amplifie. Roth’s colleague objects that blacklisting “stopthesteal” risks “de-amplifying the counter-narrative” that validates the election,” Shellenberger wrote.


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