By Michael Haynes
Undercover footage exposed a high-ranking Twitter executive discussing the “global” approach to censorship measures being enforced on the social media platform, and promising an “aggressive” crack down on users promoting “conspiracy theories” such as voter fraud.
Investigative group Project Veritas released the video showing Twitter’s Legal, Policy, Trust & Safety Lead Vijaya Gadde discussing censorship policies during a team video call two days after the Capitol protests on Jan. 6.
The footage shows Gadde commenting on how the company plans to enforce global censorship of various accounts: “One of the interesting things is a lot of the work that we’ve been doing over the last week is work that we’ve built on in other places around the world, where we’ve seen violence unfold as a result of either misleading information or coded rhetoric.”
“A lot of our learnings here [in the United States] have come from other markets. So, in that sense, you know, we do feel like it is — this is our global approach,” Gadde continued.
She also commented on the policy of widespread censorship of Twitter accounts, including that of the president, if they mentioned voter fraud: “We decided to escalate our enforcement of the civic integrity policy and use a label that disabled engagements to stop the spread of potentially inflammatory content, which is the content around election interference, election fraud, stealing the election, that type of thing.”
Gadde then defended the recent crackdown on conservatives by saying the topic of election fraud was “changing” the way in which Twitter enforced its Civic Integrity Policy: “We think that the severity of what’s happening on the ground, coupled with the information that’s contained in these [election fraud] tweets — misleading information about the election being stolen and massive fraud around the election are what is changing our analysis of how we should enforce this [civic integrity] policy,” she said.
Gadde appeared to infer that violence occurring at the Capitol was purely due to people’s beliefs about voter fraud. As such, tweets about election fraud were termed to be a “severe violation,” given what Gadde said the Big Tech company was “seeing on the ground.”
Twitter has repeatedly censored President Donald Trump’s messages which relate to election fraud, labeling them with the message: “This claim about election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.”
However, Gadde alluded to further censorship, as well as possibly banning accounts that continued to spread information about election fraud: “We’re going to actually be more aggressive in our enforcement beyond de-amplification.”
“For accounts that are a primary purpose, spreading QAnon theories … conspiracy theories, we are going to be permanently suspending those accounts.”
Commenting on the video exposé, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe said: “Twitter is laying the groundwork for essentially anyone questioning election integrity or voter fraud to be removed from the platform, no questions asked.”
Gadde also touched on the issue of the suspension of President Trump (the video was taken before he was subsequently banned), noting that the Civic Integrity Policy allowed for such measures to be taken against the president, especially since Gadde stated she considered Trump’s tweets to be “inciting violence.”
Going further than this, Gadde also had to defend the decision to (originally) temporarily suspend Trump, as others in the company wanted to ban him much sooner. She claimed that by originally imposing a 12-hour ban on his account, Twitter was able to “build trust,” but that she could “totally see” how others would favor banning Trump’s account completely.
The video comes only a few days after Project Veritas released a video of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey describing the plan to censor conservative accounts. Dorsey revealed that the censorship “is going to be bigger than just one account, and this is going to go on for much longer than just this day, this week, and the next few weeks and go on beyond the [presidential] inauguration.”
Dorsey made claims similar to Gadde, saying that a now deleted account, which Project Veritas took to mean Trump’s, was linked “to real world violence.”
However, Big Tech censorship has led to some blowback.
Idaho internet provider Your T1 WIFI has taken steps to block Facebook and Twitter for some of its customers, after over two-thirds of them complained about Big Tech. Customers who no longer wished to have access to the social media sites can opt out and have the social media platforms blocked.
In an impromptu interview to reporters last week, Trump warned about the ramifications of Big Tech censorship, calling it a “catastrophic mistake.”
“I think that Big Tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country,” he said. “I believe it’s going to be a catastrophic mistake for them. They’re dividing and divisive, and they’re showing something that I’ve been predicting for a long time. I’ve been predicting it for a long time and people didn’t act on it, but I think Big Tech has made a terrible mistake, and very, very bad for our country.”