Twitter deleted posts with screenshots of tweets by former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol building, even if the posts criticized Trump, according to messages released Saturday evening.
Employees of the social media site struggled about how to handle tweets where users posted screenshots of posts by the former president that the site removed or otherwise suppressed on Jan. 6, 2021, even when the users were critical of Trump, author Michael Shellenberger reported in a thread posted on the social media site. One post that drew debate was from a user who claimed Trump was “inciting violence” with a screenshot of a suppressed tweet.
One employee wanted to take down the tweet and apply a “strike” to the user’s account. “[T]hey are criticizing Trump, so I am bit hesitant with applying strike to this user,” another employee responded, according to Shellenberger.
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In another case, a user called out Twitter for removing Trump’s posts while posting a screenshot of the deleted post. Moderators decided to delete the post, but not give the user a “strike” since the image was “not shared with abusive intent,” Shellenberger reported.
“I am in agreement,” an employee wrote in the internal messages. “One-off works for commentary, strike if a tweet is agreeing with tweet’s view.”
The term “one off” pointed to instances where Twitter employees took action against individual posts without adding strikes toward permanent banishment, Shellenberger reported.
Journalist Matt Taibbi published documents Dec. 2 about Twitter’s actions regarding an October 2020 report by the New York Post about the contents of a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden. Taibbi reported on additional documents Friday on what he called “the erosion of standards” in the company prior to Jan. 6, 2021, and Trump’s ban two days later.
Bari Weiss, formerly of The New York Times, reported on how Twitter “shadowbanned” various conservative accounts, including those of talk radio host Dan Bongino and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk. Elon Musk, who closed the deal to purchase Twitter on Oct. 27, said releasing Twitter’s internal discussions about censorship was “necessary to restore public trust” in a Nov. 23 tweet.