Don’t Like Twitter’s New CEO? Blame Paul Singer

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Thousands of user accounts vanished from Twitter shortly after new Chief Executive Parag Agrawal took the reins in November from the outgoing CEO, Jack Dorsey. The tech giant claimed that the purges focused on eliminating bots and propaganda accounts, mostly from China. 

In reality, however, Twitter’s digital street sweepers cast a much broader net, purging many right-wing accounts, including those that break news outside of mainstream coverage, such as Project Veritas.

A central and overlooked detail in Twitter’s new censorship regime is that Twitter’s new CEO was installed by neoconservative GOP megadonor Paul Singer through his hedge fund, Elliott Management. In 2020, Singer launched a shareholder campaign seeking to oust Dorsey as CEO. “Twitter’s management eventually reached a deal with Elliott by giving the firm and its ally, private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, three seats on Twitter’s board on the condition that Dorsey remained as CEO,” the Observer reported.

Singer’s role in Agrawal’s rise illustrates the interplay between the real power behind the GOP—wealthy donors—and the enemies of the party’s base within Silicon Valley.

For example, in December Twitter suspended the Project Veritas-affiliated Twitter account that posted a story that placed Rick Saleeby, a CNN producer on “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” at the center of a pedophilia scandal. In leaked text messages, Saleeby appeared to fantasize to a source about sex acts with his fiancé’s underage daughter. He also allegedly solicited sexually explicit photos of the source’s underage daughter. The scoop followed John Griffin, another CNN producer, being arrested and charged with federal child sex crimes.

Twitter’s action likely had to do with a new private information policy Agrawal enacted on Nov. 30. Under the change, posting “media of private individuals without the permission of the person(s) depicted” is prohibited. Apparently Saleeby is protected by this policy, but it’s unclear whether it will be enforced equally across the political spectrum. Indeed, Twitter called it an “error” when they initially banned left-wing accounts that publish private information with the intent of causing professional or reputational damage. “After this was rolled out, we became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors,” Twitter told The Independent.

Agrawal has described his views about content moderation as mitigating “harm” caused by “misinformation” in a recent interview with MIT Technology Review. “Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation,” Agrawal said. He added that Twitter is not a “neutral party,” and that it will defer on what is harmful to the wisdom of “credible sources.” In other words, those of mainstream left-leaning media.

By Pedro Gonzalez

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