Authorities at Twitter chose not suppress particular references some liberal figures made to 2020 election conspiracy theories, despite marking some conservatives’ tweets with labels, according to internal communications journalist Matt Taibbi revealed Friday.
An Oct. 27, 2020 tweet by former Attorney General Eric Holder received a generic warning label when he stated that the Postal Service was “deliberately crippled” and called for everyone to vote in person due to Supreme Court rulings, but former Twitter Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth successfully requested the label’s removal, arguing that “everything in it is factually accurate,” Taibbi showed in a Twitter thread. The tweet was seemingly in reference to a Supreme Court decision issued that day not allowing Wisconsin election authorities to count absentee ballots received six days after Election Day.
Some Democrats spread unproven conspiracy theories that the Trump administration tampered with Postal Service collection boxes to suppress votes, after then-President Donald Trump had appeared to suggest on Aug. 13, 2020 that he would veto a bill providing U.S. Postal Service funding to stop it from supporting mail-in ballot use, before contradicting that idea hours later and continuing to voice skepticism toward universal mail-in voting.
Similarly, Roth stated in a message that he was “Not seeing the violation here?” when media personality Rick Rosner tweeted on Oct. 27, 2020 that then-President Donald Trump and new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett would “try to #StealOurVotes,” Taibbi revealed from internal documents. Another Twitter executive, Patrick Conlon argued against labelling the tweet, saying he believed it referenced a “Supreme Court decision on processing mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day.”
The Supreme Court on Oct. 19, 2020 declined to stop Pennsylvania from counting Election Day-postmarked mail-in ballots that would arrive at their destinations during the subsequent three days, with the votes split at 4-4. The Senate had not yet confirmed Barrett when that vote took place, and Barrett immediately faced a motion to recuse herself from voting on a challenge in the post-Election Day ballot delivery case.
However, Twitter staff were quick to attach labels to tweets by conservatives and Republican officials, Taibbi reported.
For instance, Twitter applied a “Stay informed” label to Republican Georgia Rep. Jody Hice’s tweet claiming mailed ballots were “more prone to fraud than in-person voting” and declaring “Say NO to Big Tech censorship,” Taibbi pointed out, and slapped a restriction label on a Trump tweet that warned of vague “discrepancies” and “big problems” with mail-in voting.
“I think going too far down the rabbit hole of labeling critical speech (e.i. critical of our handling in this case) is dangerous,” Roth stated in private messages that Taibbi disclosed, indicating that he leaned towards applying a “soft intervention” to Hice’s post. “It becomes a self-reinforcing ‘wah wah censorship’ cycle.”
Twitter staff also used a “Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure” label on an FBI-reported Oct. 26, 2020 tweet by Republican former Tippecanoe County, Indiana Councilor John Basham stating, “Between 2% and 25% of Ballots by Mail are Being Rejected for Errors,” based on Taibbi’s disclosure. The FBI also reported a tweet related to the “shredding” of mail-in ballots, which a Twitter staff member said a PolitiFact article had “proven to be false.”
Twitter dispatched “a vast range of visible and invisible tools to rein in Trump’s engagement” prior to Jan. 6, 2021, Taibbi reported. The platform applied many automatic moderation rules, or “bots,” that were linked to the former president’s account by that day, he said.
Actor James Woods tweeted on Oct. 27, 2020 that Twitter was “suppressing” one of Trump’s tweets the previous day, which stated, “Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd.” In a private message, one Twitter staffer suggested that they “action him for something worth the fiasco” instead, and another staffer said someone could “hit him hard on future vio with firmer basis,” according to Taibbi’s thread.
Twitter did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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