According to Matt Taibbi, an independent journalist who has been posting on Twitter about documents released by Elon Musk that detail suppression efforts, Twitter deployed a “vast array of tools” against former President Donald Trump even before January 6.
The social media platform has claimed that January 6 was the impetus for limiting and banning Trump, but internal documents show that other methods were also used before that time.
9. Before J6, Twitter was a unique mix of automated, rules-based enforcement, and more subjective moderation by senior executives. As @BariWeiss reported, the firm had a vast array of tools for manipulating visibility, most all of which were thrown at Trump (and others) pre-J6.
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 9, 2022
The tweet was part of a thread by Taibbi that detailed how Twitter had restricted Trump.
Some of the methods used were L3 deamplification that limited the ability of tweets to be shared and a Slack channel focused on monitoring election-related accounts that might have to be removed, suspended, or have specific tweets removed.
Twitter also put bots on Trump’s account during this time to monitor his activity, giving officials the ability to react quickly when they saw behavior they thought was out of line.
For those watching at the time, it was clear that Twitter was becoming progressively more restrictive in regards to Trump’s account prior to January 6 and the total ban that followed.
Elon Musk, who is trying to turn things around at Twitter, has released files filled with the internal communications that showed how Twitter employees had suppressed accounts and stories that harmed Democrat political candidates like President Joe Biden.
Debate about free speech
Musk has been outspoken about free speech; in fact, he spent $45 billion buying Twitter precisely because of his beliefs about free speech.
His actions at Twitter have revived a debate in the media about the nature and effects of free speech.
The New York Times argued last week that the impact of Musk’s principles on free speech had been to encourage more hate speech. Racial and gay slurs are significantly up on Twitter since Musk took over, the Times pointed out.
Time contended that Twitter was participating in the “upholding of racism and conspiracy theories as gospel” by removing restrictions on the platform.
As it should be
In time, Musk will surely find a way to disallow outright slurs and actual hate speech on Twitter while not restricting people just for having a different political viewpoint. There must be an algorithm for that.
Meanwhile, the left will be allowed to slam him for championing free speech. And that’s just as it should be.