by Victor Nava
Twitter executives bent over backward to try to suppress tweets from high-profile conservatives leading up to the 2020 election – but found ways to justify keeping up posts from users that espoused liberal political views, the latest “Twitter Files” reveal.
In one shocking instance, when workers at the social media giant didn’t have a “firm policy basis” for censoring a pro-Trump tweet from right-wing Hollywood actor James Woods, they vowed to “hit him hard on future [violations],” according to a screenshot of internal communications shared by independent journalist Matt Taibbi.
“Twitter is suppressing this tweet by the President. Here’s a screen grab,” Woods wrote on Twitter in October of 2020, sharing an image of a tweet from then-President Donald Trump that Twitter flagged as “disputed” and “misleading.”
A file from Matt Taibbi showing a tweet by Donald Trump being suppressed.
The conservative actor’s swipe against the social media giant appeared to anger top company execs so much so that they considered taking action against Woods’s account.
“I’d suggest we action him for something worth the fiasco rather than this screenshot, since we don’t have a firm policy basis for action on his account,” an unnamed Twitter employee wrote in the internal message obtained by Taibbi.
Taibbi also highlights a Trump tweet from October 2020 that Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, acknowledges is “factually accurate” but was still nearly slapped with a warning label.
16. The latter group were a high-speed Supreme Court of moderation, issuing content rulings on the fly, often in minutes and based on guesses, gut calls, even Google searches, even in cases involving the President. pic.twitter.com/5ihsPCVo62
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 9, 2022
“No. A Rigged Election!” Trump wrote in response to a Ohio news outlet tweet about incorrect ballots being mailed to residents, which asked Twitter users if they “feel safe” mailing in ballots.
Twitter employees nearly added a “mail-in voting is safe” warning label to this tweet, Taibbi discovered, before realizing “the events took place” and “the commentary by POTUS is his opinion related to these real events.”
“Yeah … those are factually accurate,” Roth tells his colleagues.
Twitter execs also pored over a tweet former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee posted leading up to the 2020 presidential election in which he joked that he filled out ballots for his “deceased parents and grandparents.”
“Stood in rain for hour to early vote today. When I got home I filled in my stack of mail-in ballots and then voted the ballots of my deceased parents and grandparents. They vote just like me! #Trump2020” Huckabee tweeted in October of 2020.
Twitter employees didn’t find the post amusing and nearly took action against it, with Taibbi finding that one employee said, “I agree it’s a joke … but he’s also literally admitting in a tweet a crime.”
“The group declares Huck’s an ‘edge case,’ and though one notes, ‘we don’t make exceptions for jokes or satire,’ they ultimately decide to leave him be, because ‘we’ve poked enough bears,’” Taibbi writes.
42. “THAT’S UNDERSTANDABLE”: Even the hashtag #StealOurVotes – referencing a theory that a combo of Amy Coney Barrett and Trump will steal the election – is approved by Twitter brass, because it’s “understandable” and a “reference to… a US Supreme Court decision.” pic.twitter.com/6BjJhjypD2
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 10, 2022
Before letting Huckabee’s tweet go, employees banter and worry about the “confusion” such joking tweets might lead to, with Roth suggesting that in future cases the decision whether to suppress such a post might come down to how much confusion it causes.
In contrast, Taibbi pointed out “multiple instances” of misleading “pro-Biden tweets” that didn’t face the same level of scrutiny.
We are being occupied by an illegal Federal Government compromise by foreign interests.
Reading the thread, it looks like a lot of discussions about whether to do something about many posts and then, in the end, not doing anything about many posts.
Is that what it looks like to you? To those who open their eyes and actually look at things instead of waiting to be told what it is by proven and known liars it looks like fascist censorship and suppression.
And deciding to censor those who don’t support the regime that is working with Twitter.
Where is greg on this? Surely he has an opinion.
I’m surprised THAT stopped them. Obviously, simply being TRUE didn’t guide their decisions.
The 2020 election was stolen via a vie the interference from twitter, facebook and Google.