On the same day that President Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter for violating its “Glorification of Violence” policy, Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead, Vijaya Gadde, privately admitted that Trump had attempted to “deescalate the situation” and that this “has been helpful and important for some, if not all of, the people who are following him.”
Gadde made the comments in a leaked recording of an internal January 8 Twitter staff meeting where she was answering some of the top questions from Twitter employees on the workplace communication tool Slack.
Gadde began by addressing Twitter’s interpretation of Trump’s tweets: “Whether we believe Trump’s tweets are inciting violence and have real-world harm, I think we’ve seen that in fact, they are. I think the question is ‘which ones are?'”
However, she then admitted that: “We’ve also seen that Trump has attempted, since coming back from the timeout, to deescalate the situation which I think has been helpful and important for some, if not all of, the people who are following him.”
During the meeting, Gadde and Twitter’s Head of Internal Communications, Julie Steel, also revealed that employees were questioning why Trump was given a 12-hour suspension on January 6 instead of “jump a couple of steps ahead” and that the executives had been given a “letter from employees demanding Trump to be suspended.”
Gadde said the company had “a really robust discussion” about whether the 12-hour suspension of Trump’s account should “just be a permanent suspension” but ultimately decided that the 12-hour suspension was “a significant escalation from how we had enforced our Civic Integrity policy against the President in the past.”
“We felt that it was important to send that message that we were incredibly concerned and that this was a significant violation of our policy,” Gadde said. “But we also felt that it was important to build trust, to also warn before a permanent suspension of an account of this importance, particularly in light of the fact that there were also messages of conciliation and asking protestors to leave and be peaceful etc.”
Gadde even empathized with the employees who were pushing for Trump’s account to be permanently suspended:
“I can totally see why other people would come to a different conclusion and that’s a reasonable conclusion and it was just a different, I drew the balance in a different way given where I think long-term we want to be in terms of building trust and enforcing policies consistently and providing adequate notice before we take a very aggressive step like a permanent suspension.”
Ultimately, these acknowledgments from a top Twitter executive that Trump had attempted to deescalate the situation, posted messages of conciliation, and asked protestors to leave and be peaceful had little effect on the fate of the President’s account.
On the same day as this meeting, Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account and put out an official statement which claimed that Trump’s final two tweets, one thanking his supporters and one announcing he would not be attending the Inauguration, were “highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
In addition to discussing Trump’s account, Gadde also touched on how real-world events dictate how Twitter interprets and enforces its policies.
According to Gadde, Twitter disabled engagements on content around “election interference, election fraud, stealing the election, that type of thing” because of the “severity of what’s happening on the ground” and this led to Twitter “changing our analysis of how we should enforce this policy.”
Yet Twitter’s interpretation of the “severity of what’s happening on the ground” appears to be strictly limited to the events at the US Capitol. Other significant recent events, such as last week’s arrest of Raquel Rodriquez for “election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people voting by mail, and unlawfully possessing an official ballot,” don’t appear to have changed how Twitter enforces its policy.