Twitter Files Reveal Trump Ban Came After Michelle Obama Others Pressured Company
Former President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter the day after former first lady Michelle Obama and others called on the company to remove him “permanently,” according to the latest episode of “Twitter Files.”
On Saturday, CEO Elon Musk and journalist Michael Shellenberger released the fourth batch of Twitter documents that show internal communications from company executives between January 6 and January 8, 2021, including and shortly after the riot in Capitol.
Among the filings, Shellenberger reported that “internal and external pressure,” including from the former first lady, fell on the company calling for Trump to be banned from using Twitter.
“Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop allowing this monstrous behavior and go even further than they have already done by permanently banning this man from their platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their technologies from being used by the nation’s leaders to fuel insurgency,” Obama wrote in a lengthy statement posted to Twitter on January 7.
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She added: “And if we have any hope of improving this nation, now is the time to have quick and serious consequences for the failure of leadership that led to the shame of yesterday.”
In addition to the former first lady, the Anti-Defamation League, among several other prominent figures and organizations, has called for Trump’s ban.
On the morning of January 7, Jack Dorsey, then CEO of Twitter, wrote an email to employees asking them, as Shellenberger wrote: “to remain consistent in its policies, including the right of users to return to Twitter after a temporary suspension”.
Trump was serving a suspension on the platform at the time.
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The files also showed that Twitter maintained a policy – called “public interest exceptions” – where elected officials were not banned because there was high public interest in their comments, even if they appeared to violate other policies.
While Trump’s temporary suspension was lifted, this second policy was specifically and intentionally ignored in Trump’s case, Shellenberger reported. Dorsey was also on vacation at the time of Trump’s ban.
“Dorsey was vacationing in French Polynesia the week of January 4-8, 2021,” Shellenberger reported. The chief executive has delegated much of the responsibility to senior executives, including Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth and former head of legal, policy and trust affairs Vijaya Gadde, who , according to Shellenberger, were “extremely progressive”.
“In 2018, 2020 and 2022, 96%, 98% and 99% of Twitter staff political donations went to Democrats,” Shellenberger reported.
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Shellenberger also reported, “In 2017 Roth tweeted that there were ‘REAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE'”.
“Twitter employees recognize the difference between their own policy and Twitter’s Terms of Service, but they also engage in complex content interpretations to weed out banned tweets,” Shellenberger also pointed out.
A day after Dorsey’s email, Trump was permanently suspended for how his messages were “received and interpreted.”
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After Musk bought Twitter and took over as CEO, Trump’s access to the platform was restored. However, Trump has yet to regain control of his account and previously told Fox News Digital that he intended to remain on his social media platform, Truth Social.