Tech Censorship

Twitter Broke Its Own Rules To Ban Trump While Keeping World Leaders Who “Incited Violence”

Company employees concluded Trump’s tweets did not incite violence before making up reasons for why they did

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (center) banned President Donald Trump (left) from Twitter in 2021 even after having let Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right) stay despite tweeting, “#Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated.”

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey founded the social media platform with the mission “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” Said Dorsey, “Twitter cannot rightly serve as a public square if it’s constructed around the personal opinions of its makers… a key driver of a thriving public square is the … freedom of opinion and expression.”

But internal Twitter discussions made available to journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and me show that Twitter employees created secret blacklists that prevented tweets they disagreed with from trending and limited the visibility of particular users. For example, we discovered that Stanford Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya, who warned the world of the danger of covid lockdowns on children, was still on a Twitter “Trends Blacklist.”

Twitter had denied that it was secretly censoring users and tweets in this way. In 2018, Vijaya Gadde, then the company’s Head of Legal Policy and Trust, and Kayvon Beykpour, the Head of Product, said, “We do not shadow ban,” adding, “And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”

Defenders of Twitter’s previous management say Bhattacharya and others weren’t “shadowbanned” and that users pushing misinformation, racism, or violence should be banned or kept on blacklists.

In their 2018 post, Gadde and Beykpour defined shadowbanning as “deliberately making someone’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster,” which Twitter did not do to Bhattacharya, whose content was still discoverable.

Covid policy critics frequently spread harmful misinformation, say others, and Twitter did the best it could to moderate content during a complex pandemic.

And few objected, for instance, to when Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, suspended Ye (formerly Kanye) West for posting a swastika crossed with the Star of David, two weeks ago.


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