Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Anti-Twitter Files: January 6th Committee Report Shows How Twitter Leaned Over Backwards To Protect Trump & Conservatives

from the reality-bites dept

For all the talk of the “Twitter Files,” as we’ve detailed, they’ve mostly been, at best, misleading, and frequently actively wrong. One of the big reveals, we were told, was that the Files were going to expose the political machinations of how Twitter banned former President Trump. And, indeed, Bari Weiss’s “Part Five” of the Twitter Files, back in mid-December, purported to reveal the big secret reckoning. But if you haven’t heard much about it since then, it’s because… they were a complete flop when it came to anything of interest. Basically, it was exactly what some of us said the day it happened: a difficult decision with a number of competing factors going into it. One that could have gone either way, but recognizing the gravity of what happened on January 6th, and the genuine concern that Trump would continue to whip his fans into an insurrectionist frenzy, one that you can see a reasonable argument for making.

And while Musk (falsely) insisted that the big reveal was that Trump didn’t actually violate Twitter’s policies, that’s also a misreading of what happened. What we’ve learned is that Trump and other Republican leaders were actually given special treatment over the years, because they tended to violate policies way more often than Democrats. But, knowing that Republicans would flop to the ground and fake injury any time they were faced with even having to take the slightest bit of responsibility for violating policies, all the big social media platforms went above and beyond to better protect the high profile accounts of Republican rule breakers.

And while many people tried to paint the decision to finally ban Trump as some sort of “proof” that the company leadership was a bunch of left-leaning censors, the reality seemed to be quite different. Even Weiss’ big reveal was simply that there was strong and heated internal debate about what to do, with many employees (mostly not directly engaged in content moderation issues) calling for the company to ban him, while executives and trust & safety folks questioning whether or not that would be appropriate.

Right at the end of last year, though, as the House Select Committee investigated January 6th was wrapping up, some of the details of what they discovered about Twitter’s debate was leaked to Rolling Stone, and presents an even more detailed picture of how the company strongly resisted calls to ban Trump.

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