'Twitter Files Part 4’ details how platform changed policy specifically to ban ‘Trump alone’

Thread details process Twitter execs took to make "case for a permanent ban” with “no concern for the free speech or democracy implications.”

Published: December 10, 2022 7:01pm

Updated: December 10, 2022 8:20pm

The fourth entry in the ongoing "Twitter Files" series of explosive revelations dropped on Saturday night, with part four in the series focusing on the removal of Donald Trump from the popular social media platform in early 2021. 

The latest thread, published by writer Michael Shellenberger, details the process that "Twitter executives" took as they were "build[ing] the case for a permanent ban" against the former Republican president. 

"On Jan 7 [2021]," Shellenberger wrote, Twitter executives "create[d] justifications to ban Trump ... [sought] a change of policy for Trump alone, distinct from other political leaders" and "...express[ed] no concern for the free speech or democracy implications of a ban."

Shellenberger wrote that, following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, "internal and external pressure" mounted against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to enact the ban.

As late as Jan. 7, 2021, he noted, Dorsey had emailed employees "saying Twitter needs to remain consistent in its policies, including the right of users to return to Twitter after a temporary suspension."

Yet by later that same day, Dorsey had apparently approved a "repeat offender for civic integrity" policy, according to internal documents revealed by Shellenberger; the new approach "would create a system where five violations ('strikes') would result in permanent suspension."

Trump was subsequently banned from the platform the following day due to what Twitter said was an alleged "risk of further incitement of violence."

Shellenberger said that the "only serious concern" current Twitter emploeyes could find regarding the ban on Trump was from "a junior person in the organization" whose complaint was "tucked away in a lower-level Slack channel."

"This might be an unpopular opinion but one off ad hoc decisions like this that don’t appear rooted in policy are [in my opinion] a slippery slope," the staffer wrote. "This now appears to be a fiat by an online platform CEO with a global presence that can gatekeep speech for the entire world—which seems unsustainable."

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