Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped reveal Wednesday that Twitter changed its rules to allow Donald Trump to tweet essentially whatever he wanted.
Anika Collier Navaroli worked on Twitter’s content moderation policy. She was also the whistleblower who told the House January 6 investigative committee that the social network let Trump bend rules and tweet disinformation for years because executives enjoyed how powerful it made them.
Navaroli testified Wednesday in front of the House alongside three other former Twitter executives. Republicans had called the hearing to ask about Hunter Biden’s laptop, but Ocasio-Cortez decided it was time to “talk about something real.”
Ocasio-Cortez highlighted a Trump tweet from 2019 demanding why she and several of her colleagues (members of the Squad and, at the time, all women of color) don’t “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
In response to a series of questions, Navaroli explained that she and her team had recommended finding Trump in violation of Twitter policy for that tweet, particularly because phrases such as “go back to where you come from” were specifically forbidden in Twitter’s content moderation guidelines.
When she made the recommendation to one of her superiors, Navaroli’s decision was overridden. A few days later, Twitter changed its content moderation policy to remove that phrase as an example of abusive language.
“So Twitter changed their own policy after the president violated it in order to potentially accommodate his tweet?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
When Navaroli said yes, the congresswoman replied, “So much for bias against [the] right-wing on Twitter.”
Republicans and Trump in particular have long claimed that social media is biased against them. But Navaroli’s testimony reveals that Twitter, at least, was willing to bend the rules to give world leaders much more wiggle room.
In 2019, Twitter created its public interest exemptions, which stated that even if a politician’s tweets violated content policy, the posts could be left up if they were found to be in the public interest.
Trump was only penalized when he tweeted something really egregious, such as election misinformation or comments that helped spark the January 6 riot. But by then, it was too late.