Twitter Deviated From Longstanding Policy to Justify Trump Ban, Part 4 of ‘Twitter Files’ Reveals

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Internal Twitter documents released by journalists Michael Shellenberger and Leighton Woodhouse late Saturday showed how executives of the social media platform decided to deviate from a longstanding company policy to permanently ban former President Donald Trump.

Yoel Roth, then-Twitter’s head of trust and safety, told a sales executive in a message on Jan. 7, 2021—one day before Trump’s Twitter account was permanently banned—that the company was “changing our public interest approach” for Trump’s account “in this specific case.”

Roth was referring to Twitter’s longstanding “public-interest exceptions” policy, which allows elected officials to post content even if some content violate Twitter rules.

“Twitter generally actions Tweets that violate our rules,” Twitter said on its website in an outline of the policy. “However, we recognize that sometimes it may be in the public interest to allow people to view Tweets that would otherwise be taken down. We consider content to be in the public interest if it directly contributes to understanding or discussion of a matter of public concern.”

It came after the sales executive told Roth: “jack says: ‘we will permanently suspend [Trump] if our policies are violated after a 12 hour account lock’… what policies is jack talking about?” The sales executive was presumably referring to then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Roth responded: “*ANY* policy violation”

According to messages shared by Shellenberger and Woodhouse, later that day, a Twitter engineer asked Roth whether there had been “discussion about reshaping the rules around ‘official accounts,’” citing @realDonaldTrump as an example.

“I feel a lot of debates around exceptions stem from the fact that Trump’s account is not technically different from anybody else’ and yet treated differently due to his personal status, without corresponding _Twitter rules_ to clarify the responsibilities that should come with that status,” the engineer continued.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

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