In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, Twitter employees raged at their own company and its leadership, blaming them for the social media giant’s inept handling of Donald Trump and other top MAGA figures’ incitement to violence.
“Do you want to have more blood on your hands?” one staffer asked a top executive, Del Harvey, when she questioned whether Trump could inspire more violence in the insurrection’s aftermath.
The exchange, relayed by former Twitter employees to the Jan. 6 committee, was included in a summary of investigative findings prepared by committee staff and obtained by Rolling Stone. The 120-page document contains insights about the role of social media in the insurrection — most of which were not included in the committee’s final report — and paints a picture of Twitter as bumbling and gunshy in its efforts to stop extremists from using the platform in the run-up to the insurrection.
In its final report, the Jan. 6 committee mostly avoided conclusions about how social media companies responded to insurrection and the weeks of extremist rhetoric leading up to it. Committee members punted the issue to Congress and asked oversight committees to “continue to evaluate policies of media companies that have had the effect of radicalizing their consumers.”
In the draft summary, written by the committee’s “purple” or social media team, staffers were more pointed about what they saw as the failures of big social media companies.
“The sheer scale of Republican post-election rage paralyzed decisionmakers at Twitter and Facebook, who feared political reprisals if they took strong action,” the summary concluded.
Twitter reportedly told the committee that it instituted the draft coded incitement to violence policy once rioters made it inside the Capitol, but former employees said the on-the-fly implementation was vague, confused, and ad hoc. The result of the delay, they argued, meant that “members of the Safety Policy Team were manually taking down violent tweets, including those including ‘#ExecuteMikePence,’ using only the Twitter search function.” [Continue reading…]