Inside Twitter’s decision to cut Trump

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey was working remotely on a private island in French Polynesia when he was frequented by celebrities to avoid paparazzi when a January 6 phone call was interrupted.

Vijaya was the top lawyer and security expert on Twitter, with updates from the real world. She said that she and other company officials had decided to temporarily close President Trump’s account to prevent him from posting the statement, which sparked more violence following a crowd uproar in the US Capitol that day. May be to provoke.

Mr Dorsey was concerned about the move, saying two people have knowledge of the call. For four years, he had resisted demands by liberals and others that Twitter terminate Mr. Trump’s account, arguing that the stage was a place where world leaders could speak, even though his views were heinous Were. But he had handed over moderation decisions to Ms. Mattress, 46, and usually postponed him – and he did so again.

Mr. Dorsey, 44, did not make his misunderstanding public. The following day, he liked and shared several tweets cautioning against Mr. Trump’s permanent ban. Then, over the next 36 hours, Twitter blocked Mr. Trump’s suspension from permanently closing his account, cutting the president from a platform he communicated with, unfiltered, not only by his 88 million followers but With the world.

The decision was a punctuation mark on the Trump presidency that immediately led to allegations of political bias and renewed scrutiny of the tech industry’s power over public discourse. Interviews with more than a dozen current and former Twitter insiders over the past week opened a window into how it has been built – driven by a group of Mr. Dorsey’s lieutenants who overtook their boss’ reservations , But only after a fatal stampede at the Capitol.

The following day lifted the suspension, Twitter monitored the response to Mr. Trump’s tweet on the Internet, and officials told Mr. Dorsey that Mr. Trump’s followers had seized his latest messages to call for more violence. In a post on the alternative social networking site Parlor, members of Twitter’s security team lured a Trump fan from the militia to President-Elect Joseph R. Urged Biden Jr. to stop anyone entering the White House and fight anyone who tried to stop them. He said that the possibility of more real world unrest was very high.

Twitter was also under pressure from its employees, who had agitated for years to remove Mr. Trump from service, along with lawmen, tech investors and others. But when more than 300 employees signed a letter stating that Mr. Trump’s account should be closed, it was decided to sack the president before giving the letter to officials, two of whom said .

On Wednesday, Mr. Dorsey asked for tension inside Twitter. In a string of 13 tweets, he wrote that he “did not take pride in being banned or ours.” @realDonaldTrumpThe “because” ban is a failure for us to ultimately promote healthy interactions. “

But Mr Dorsey said: “This was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and unstable situation, forcing us to focus all our actions on public safety. “

Mr. Dorsey, Ms. Mattress and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Since Mr. Trump was restrained, Mr. Dorsi’s many concerns about the move have been felt. Twitter is embroiled in a heated debate over tech power and the lack of accountability of companies.

Lawmakers such as Representative Devin Nunes, a California representative, have conducted raids against Twitter, while Silicon Valley venture capitalists, First Amendment Scholars and the American Civil Liberties Union have also criticized the company. At the same time, activists around the world have accused Twitter of following double standards by cutting Mr. Trump, but there are no other autocrats who use the platform to bully opponents.

“This is an unprecedented exercise of power to depose the President of the United States,” said Evelyn Doyak, a lecturer at Harvard Law School. “This should set a comprehensive calculation.”

Mr. Trump, who joined Twitter in 2009, was a boon and ban for the company. His tweets garnered attention on Twitter, which sometimes struggled to attract new users. But his false claims and online threats also led critics to say that the site enabled him to spread lies and harass.

More than 5,400 employees opposed Mr. Trump on stage on Twitter. In August 2019, soon after a gunman killed more than 20 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Twitter discussed in a staff meeting how the gunman, in an online manifesto, posted several views posted on Twitter by Mr. Trump Was echoed

At the meeting, two employees said “herd talk”, with some employees saying Twitter had “complicated” their supporters by giving Mr. Trump a megaphone for a “dog whistle”. The staff implicated officers to make changes before more people were hurt.

Over time, Twitter became more active on political content. In October 2019, Mr Dorsey finished all political advertising on the site, stating that he was concerned about such advertisements that “today’s democratic structure cannot be designed to handle.”

But Mr. Dorsey, the proponent of free speech, refused to take the positions of world leaders, because he considered them new. Since Twitter announced that year it would give more leeway to world leaders who broke its rules, the company deleted its tweets only once: Last March, it deleted messages from presidents of Brazil and Venezuela. Was those that promoted false treatment for coronovirus. Mr. Dorsey protested the expulsion, a man told of his thinking.

Mr Dorsey pushed for an in-solution: implementing labels for tweets by world leaders if the post violated Twitter’s policies. In May, when Mr. Trump misinformed about mail-in voting, Mr. Dorsey began labeling presidential messages for Twitter.

After the November 3 election, Mr. Trump tweeted that it was stolen from him. According to the New York Times, within a few days, Twitter had labeled about 34 percent of its tweets and retweets.

This was followed by the Capitol Storm.

On January 6, as Congress met to certify the election, Twitter executives celebrated the acquisition of Uno, a branding and design firm. Mr. Dorsey, who has often been on retreats, had traveled to the South Pacific island, informing people about his location.

When Mr. Trump used Twitter to exclude Vice President Mike Pence and question the election result, the company warned in his tweet. Then as violence erupted in the Capitol, people urged Twitter and Facebook to take Mr. Trump completely offline.

This led to a virtual discussion between some of Mr. Dorsey’s lieutenants. The group included Ms. Mattress, a lawyer who joined Twitter in 2011; Dale Harvey, vice president of trust and security; And Joel Roth, head of site integrity. Ms. Harvey and Mr. Roth had helped build the company’s responses to spam, harassment and election interference.

Authorities decided to suspend Mr. Trump because his comments appeared to incite the crowd, people with knowledge of the discussion said. Ms. Gerde then called Mr. Dorsey, who was not pleased, he said.

Mr. Trump was not completely forbidden. Had he deleted many tweets that would have stopped the crowd, there would have been a 12-hour cooling-off period. Then he could post again.

Facebook did the same after locking Mr. Trump’s account on Twitter. Snapchat, Twitch and others also placed limits on Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Dorsey was not sold on Mr. Trump’s permanent ban. He emailed employees the following day, stating that it was important for the company to remain consistent with its policies, including letting the user back after a suspension.

Many activists were dissatisfied with the fear that history would pity them. Many called for IBM’s collaboration with the Nazis, current and former Twitter employees said, and launched a petition to immediately remove Mr. Trump’s account.

On the same day, Facebook stopped Mr. Trump at least at the end of his term. But he returned to Twitter that evening with a video saying there would be a peaceful transition of power.

By the next morning, however, Mr. Trump was back. He tweeted that his base would contain “GIANT VOICE” and that he would not attend the January 20 opening.

Twitter’s security team immediately noticed Trump’s fans, who were saying the president left him, posted about further unrest, telling people with information about the case. In a parlor message reviewing the security team, a user said whoever opposed the “American Patriots” should leave Washington during the inauguration or suffer physical harm.

The security team started drafting an analysis of the tweet and they formed the basis for killing Mr. Trump, people said.

At noon that day in San Francisco, Mr. Dorsey called for a staff meeting. Some pressured him on why Mr. Trump was not permanently barred.

Mr. Dorsey reiterated that Twitter should conform to its policies. But he said he drew a line in the sand that the president cannot cross or that Mr. Trump would lose the privileges of his account, people familiar with the incident said.

After the meeting, Mr. Dorsey and other officials agreed that Mr. Trump’s tweet that morning – and the reactions he had provoked – crossed that line, people said. He said the employee letter to remove Mr. Trump was given later.

Mr. Trump’s account was gone, except for the “Account Suspended” label. He tried to tweet with the @POTUS account, which is the official account of the US president, as well as others. But at every turn, Twitter failed to pull the messages.

Some Twitter employees, fearing the wrath of Mr. Trump’s supporters, have now made their Twitter accounts private and removed their employers’ mentions from online biographies, four people said. Many officers were entrusted with personal protection.

Twitter has also clamped down on accounts that promote violence. Over the weekend, it removed more than 70,000 accounts that pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory, which suggests that Mr. Trump is fighting a cabal of devil-worshiping pedophiles.

On Wednesday, employees virtually gathered and discussed Mr. Trump’s decision, two attendees said. Some were grateful that Twitter took action, while others were eager to leave the Trump era behind. Many were emotional; Some cried.

That afternoon, Mr Trump returned to Twitter again, this time using the official @hiteHouse account to share a video that he condemned the violence – but also condemned what he called a ban on free speech said. Twitter allowed the video to be online.

An hour later, Mr. Dorsey tweeted his uneasiness about deleting Mr. Trump’s online accounts. He wrote “This is a precedent that I think is dangerous: a person or corporation has a power in global public interaction.”

But he concluded, “Everything we learn in this moment will improve our effort, and can push us to be what we are: a humanity together.”

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