Donald Trump’s Twitter Return: On June 9, 2022, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol held a hearing. During the hearing, a tweet from former President Donald Trump was presented.
Why is Donald Trump’s Return to Twitter Bad Timing?
“Vox Populi” wants Donald Trump back on Twitter. 51.8% of 15 million poll respondents (including bots) supported Trump’s return. Elon Musk has acted quickly and carelessly since buying Twitter. Musk immediately fired chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde after declaring himself chief tweeter. Musk dismissed 3,000 contractors “behind the screen” who dealt with hate speech, harassment, stalking, threats, nonconsensual intimate images, spam, and other Twitter breaches. Twitter’s content moderation was eliminated in one stroke.
Before discussing what it would imply if Trump starts tweeting again, it’s crucial to understand what Musk has deconstructed and what he’ll try to reconstruct once hazards become evident and advertisers depart.
Twitter spent years combating online misdeeds. This attempt started slowly. Spam, impersonation, and copyright infringement were outlawed in 2009. Del Harvey, the lone safety staffer, asked Citron to prepare a message concerning threats, cyber stalking, and assaults. Harvey sought to address these damages, but the C-suite refused in the name of free expression.
Twitter followed this formula until 2014 when Gamergate cyber mobs began removing women. Advertisers didn’t want their products near rape, death threats, and nonconsensual pornography. Gadde tripled the team’s size. Harvey, Sarah Hoyle, and John Starr banned cyberstalking, threats, hate speech, and nonconsensual pornography. Michelle Haq implemented product policies. Product managers improved reporting processes by hiring thousands of moderators.
That’s the start. Gadde, Harvey, and Hoyle founded the Trust and Safety Council in 2015. Since then, we’ve served on the council for Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, where we’re board members and leaders. Jack Dorsey returned as CEO that year and prioritized trust and safety. The 2016 election made this clear. Dorsey and Gadde convened a small kitchen cabinet (Citron, former New York Times editor Bill Keller, and Berkeley journalism school dean Tom Goldstein) to sketch a road ahead to assure the platform would promote public dialogue rather than destroy it.
Dorsey, Gadde, and Harvey met with this group on Dec. 2, 2016, to discuss how Twitter can combat disinformation that was eroding faith in democracies worldwide. The gathered didn’t have all the answers, but it was apparent the firm was on high alert and would devote resources to addressing damaging online activity.
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Twitter’s rule-breaker blind spot: public officials. Trump (and others) violated the company’s policies by spewing hate speech, harassment, electoral falsehoods, and health deception. Twitter and others said public officials “were different,” despite our motto that “with tremendous authority comes greater—not less—responsibility.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, a crowd came to the U.S. Capitol to clamor for Trump’s long-overdue ouster. Gadde got Dorsey to temporarily suspend Trump’s account. We argued for Trump’s social media ban on Feb. 6, 2021. Trump used social media to minimize and politicize the deadly epidemic, and he incited a mob that left five dead, thousands injured, and the nation and globe terrified. Twitter and other social media sites removed Trump’s internet megaphone.
Musk has welcomed him back, but he’s not interested. He has a new posting spot with predetermined regulations. Trump founded Truth Social in 2022. His reach is weak, yet he nevertheless spreads conspiracy theories, election hoaxes, bigotry, and antisemitic clichés.
Trump will be tempted to return to Twitter to engage with his 86 million followers despite his complaints. But the platform he may return on has changed since February 2021, when we opposed his comeback. Already awful. Trump’s trust and safety team has been devastated. Worst-case scenario
Musk has reversed real-time content filtering since taking charge. He implemented a verification technique without regard to its primary purpose: defending against impersonation. Now he’s fixing his mistake. He’ll quickly realize that destroying users’ confidence and safety would frighten away advertising. He’ll find that it’s not simple to rebuild a squad that took over a decade to create.
Musk likely believes “Vox populi, vox Dei” means the people are always right, but one of the earliest references to this phrase comes from a letter from Alcuin to Charlemagne in 798: “Those who say the voice of the people is the voice of God should not be listened to since crowd riots are always close to madness.”