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Five Takeaways From the House G.O.P. Hearing With Former Twitter Executives


WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Wednesday summoned former Twitter executives to reply to accusations that the social media platform has tried to silence voices on the fitting, however the hourslong hearing yielded recent revelations about how the corporate did not limit hateful speech or material that might incite violence, sometimes altering its own rules to avoid doing so.

The Oversight and Accountability Committee called the hearing to analyze a choice that the corporate has for years admitted was a mistake: blocking an unsubstantiated Latest York Post article in regards to the activities of Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, in Ukraine before the 2020 election, through which his father was running against President Donald J. Trump.

“Twitter aggressively suppressed conservative elected officials, journalists and activists,” said Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the oversight panel.

However the session also served as a forum for Democrats to press their concerns in regards to the behavior of the corporate. They’ve accused Twitter of playing a critical role within the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, including by changing internal rules to permit Mr. Trump to maintain posting up until the riot.

“Twitter and other social media corporations acted as central organizing and staging grounds for the Jan. 6 violent riot against Congress and the vice chairman,” said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the highest Democrat on the committee, who also served on the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack.

Listed here are some takeaways from the hearing:

Anika Collier Navaroli, a former Twitter executive who was a whistle-blower in the course of the Jan. 6 investigation, recalled an incident from 2019 when a White House official tried to steer the corporate to delete a tweet by the model Chrissy Teigen. She had insulted Mr. Trump in vulgar terms after he referred to her as “filthy-mouthed.”

Ms. Teigen tweeted that Mr. Trump was a “pussy ass bitch” who had avoided tagging her in his disparaging post. “An honor, mister president,” she added.

Ms. Navaroli testified that the White House reached out to Twitter about deleting Ms. Teigen’s post.

“They wanted it to return down since it was a derogatory statement directed on the president,” she said.

Ms. Navaroli added that Twitter often evaluated tweets to see in the event that they contained greater than three insults before judging that that they had crossed the road into abuse. Twitter declined to delete Ms. Teigen’s tweet.

Ms. Navaroli also testified that Twitter modified its rules to avoid adding labels to a few of Mr. Trump’s tweets that will have identified them as violating the corporate’s rules. Amongst them were posts that denigrated a bunch of liberal congresswomen of color referred to as “the Squad.”

In 2019, when one among Mr. Trump’s tweets called for the lawmakers to “go and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they got here,” Ms. Navaroli’s team said it violated an internal Twitter rule that prohibited the demonization of immigrants and the phrase “return to where you got here from.”

But when she flagged the violation, Ms. Navaroli testified, a Twitter executive rebuffed her. Shortly thereafter, the corporate modified its policy to remove the phrase “return to where you got here from” from its internal rules on prohibited speech, she said.

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“So Twitter modified their very own policy after the president violated it with the intention to potentially accommodate his tweet?” asked Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of Latest York and the highest-profile member of the Squad.

“Yes,” Ms. Navaroli replied.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez responded, “A lot for bias against right wing on Twitter.”

Ms. Navaroli testified that she was at her “wit’s end” when Twitter executives refused to intervene as Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was escalating before Jan. 6.

Her team created a “Coded Incitement to Violence” policy to censor accounts, but Twitter executives declined to approve it, she said.

“On Jan. 5, with the policy still not approved, I led a gathering where one among my colleagues asked management whether someone was going to need to get shot before we could be allowed to take down tweets,” she testified. “One other colleague looked up live tweets and skim them to management to attempt to persuade them of the seriousness of the difficulty. Still no motion was taken.”

After Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and injured greater than 150 cops, Ms. Navaroli asked management “whether or not they wanted more blood on their hands.”

The previous chief executive of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has already conceded to Congress that the corporate was flawed when it banned the Post article, and the previous executives testifying on Wednesday once more stated that the corporate shouldn’t have done so.

But the previous executives testified that while the choice was partly a response to F.B.I. warnings about possible Russian misinformation, the federal government had circuitously pressured the social media platform to dam the article, a central accusation leveled by Republicans.

“I’m aware of no illegal collusion with, or direction from, any government agency or political campaign on how Twitter must have handled the Hunter Biden laptop situation,” testified James Baker, Twitter’s former deputy general counsel.

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he believed Twitter executives had been in search of a reason to censor the article before the election because they were biased. He cited a tweet from one executive that compared members of the Trump administration to “Nazis.”

“I feel you guys got played,” Mr. Jordan said, adding: “I feel you guys desired to take it down. I feel you guys got played by the F.B.I.”

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, testified that he needed to sell his home and move after becoming the goal of online harassment.

Mr. Roth resigned from Twitter within the weeks after Elon Musk purchased the corporate in October. After he wrote an opinion column for The Latest York Times that criticized Mr. Musk’s strategy, his internal emails became the main target of the so-called Twitter Files, a series of media reports based on Twitter documents that Mr. Musk instructed the corporate to offer to several journalists.

The Twitter Files releases suggested that the platform took advice from the F.B.I. and other government officials regarding content moderation issues, and led to online harassment of Mr. Roth.

Other former Twitter employees also had their personal information shared online in the course of the release of the Twitter Files, Mr. Roth said, resulting in more harassment.

“Those are the implications of this type of harassment and speech,” he said.

Luke Broadwater reported from Washington, and Kate Conger from San Francisco.

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