The fourth edition of the Files was released by journalist Michael Shellenberger on Saturday, and went into details on Twitter’s changes in decision making on Jan. 7, the day after thousands gathered and rushed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
Senior executives at Twitter “create[d] justifications to ban Trump,” attempt to “seek 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,” claims Shellenberger.
Yoel Roth, the former Twitter Head of Trust and Safety, had pushed for a change to Twitter’s rule system where a user who violates the platform’s terms of service five times lead to a permanent suspension. The new system was approved late Jan. 7, according to messages sent by Roth to colleagues.
“The exchange between Roth and his colleagues makes clear that they had been pushing [former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey] for greater restrictions on the speech Twitter allows around elections,” Shellenberger argued.
The change in rules doesn’t appear to directly affect Trump’s future on the platform due to him only having one strike on the account.
Shellenberger also claims that he found no evidence of employees expressing concerns about the free speech effects that banning the former President would have besides a single comment from a junior employee.
Shellenberger’s release is the latest in a series of threads posted by him and fellow reporter Bari Weiss regarding the internal machinations of Twitter. Weiss published details about Twitter’s “blacklist” policy on Thursday, while Taibbi provided details about the website’s ban on a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. The third entry in the Files was released on Friday and detailed Twitter’s internal dialog about content moderation and how to handle election misinformation.
The results have been contested, with critics arguing that the Twitter Files have not revealed any significant or new information about the platform.