In the third installment of the ongoing “Twitter Files,” Substack writer Matt Taibbi detailed the internal Twitter correspondence that led to the ban of then-President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Like the first and second “leak” of documents, which Elon Musk touted as exposés of “free speech suppression,” the third part of the Twitter saga boils down to a lengthy explainer piece about social media’s most historic content-moderation decision: Kicking a sitting president off of their service. “Is this the first sitting head of state to ever be suspended?” an unnamed Twitter employee asks early in the thread.
Titled “The Removal of Donald Trump,” Taibbi, a former Rolling Stone writer proceeded to dole out select portions of communications handed over to him by Musk’s team. The ensuing 67-post Twitter thread attempted to reveal the “the erosion of standards within the company in months before J6, decisions by high-ranking executives to violate their own policies, and more, against the backdrop of ongoing, documented interaction with federal agencies.”
The thread also claims that in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, and going as far back as Election Day, Twitter attempted to curtail the then-president’s election misinformation by employing in-house bots. “The significance is that it shows that Twitter, in 2020 at least, was deploying a vast range of visible and invisible tools to rein in Trump’s engagement, long before J6,” Taibbi tweeted. “The ban will come after other avenues are exhausted.”
However, the thread failed to acknowledge that much of this information had already been public knowledge, and therefore studied ever since the former president incited a riot at the Capitol and was subsequently banned.
While the “Twitter Files” and their rollout continue to be sloppy, selective, and out of context, the conservative right has reveled in this newly framed information, despite it being old news repackaged as novel and “secret.” Thus, Taibbi’s latest reveal has done more to fuel conservative distrust of liberal tech leaders, and less to actually uncover anything new.
Musk, meanwhile, continues to rile up the right over Twitter’s audacity to ban a former president who incited a riot at the Capitol to perhaps avoid explaining his own rationale for banning users. After suspending Kanye West for posting an image of a swastika, Musk reinstated the Twitter accounts of white supremacists and neo-Nazis despite their previous removal from the platform.