A former Twitter Inc. employee said he pleaded with management to consider a “stricter” moderation policy in the months leading to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, but the company “chose not to act.”
During riveting taped testimony at the latest hearing from the House Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday, the former Twitter
employee said he repeatedly raised concerns after then-President Donald Trump said the extremist organization Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by” at his Sept. 29, 2020, presidential debate with Joe Biden. Despite internal distress, however, no action was taken to change policy because Twitter “relished in the knowledge that they were also the favorite and most used service” by Trump, the former employee said.
“I had been begging… and attempting to raise the reality that… if we made no intervention into what I saw occurring, people were going to die,” testified the ex-employee, whose face and voice was obscured during Tuesday’s hearing.
He added that Trump’s early-morning tweet on Dec. 19, 2020, calling for a rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, to dispute results of the 2020 presidential election produced threatening responses that “felt as if a mob was being organized.”
Following Trump’s tweet, far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and others urged Trump supporters to show up on Jan. 6, while others posted on message boards advocating violence against police guarding the Capitol.
The latest House hearing focused on extremist groups’ alleged coordination with Trump and his allies — often via social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — ahead of and during the Capitol attack.
In an email statement to MarketWatch, Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Twitter’s vice president of public policy, Americas, in part, said: “We are clear-eyed about our role in the broader information ecosystem in regards to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and while we continue to examine how we can improve moving forward, the fact remains that we took unprecedented steps and invested significant resources to prepare for and respond to the threats that emerged during the 2020 U.S. election.”
Twitter, which is locked in a legal showdown with Tesla Inc.
Chief Executive Elon Musk over his on-again, off-again $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, is also bracing for rough quarterly financial earnings next week. A downturn in digital-advertising spending is expected to undercut results for Twitter, Snap Inc.
and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.