Tweets from former President Donald Trump impressed the violence on the US Capitol on January 6th, a former Twitter employee who labored on platform and content material moderation insurance policies advised congressional investigators in testimony launched on Tuesday.
The employee, whose identification stays nameless, particularly pointed to a December nineteenth tweet from Trump, which requested his supporters to hitch him in “protest” of the 2020 election outcomes. “Be there. Will be wild,” the tweet mentioned. According to the nameless employee, that message was seen by many inside Twitter as instantly liable for the violence that adopted, which left five dead and has resulted in more than 700 arrests.
That impression was confirmed by testimony from Dr. Donell Harvin, the chief of Homeland Security for Washington, DC. “We got derogatory information from OSINT suggesting that some very, very violent individuals were organizing to come to DC,” Harvin mentioned in recorded testimony. “All the red flags went up at that point.”
In testimony, the Twitter employee defined that platform was cautious of the previous president’s presence on the platform as early as September 2020 when Trump urged members of the violent far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” throughout a presidential debate.
“My concern was that the former president, for seemingly the first time, was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives,” the employee mentioned of the September debate assertion. “We had not seen that sort of direct communication before, and that concerned me.”
Despite the considerations, the employee mentioned that Twitter refused to ban Trump in response to the statements. “If former President Donald Trump were any other user on Twitter, he would have been permanently suspended a very long time ago,” the employee advised investigators.
Asked to clarify the reluctant moderation method, the employee described a symbiotic relationship between the platform and President Trump. “I believe that Twitter relished in the knowledge that they were also the favorite and most used service of the former president,” the employee mentioned, “and enjoyed having that sort of power within the social media ecosystem.”
Trump was banned from Twitter two days after the storming of the Capitol, a choice that continues to be each contested and controversial. In a coverage assertion announcing the ban, Twitter mentioned the motion was essential “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” citing two tweets posted within the days following the occasion.
Responding to Tuesday’s testimony, Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy advised The Verge “We are clear-eyed about our role in the broader information ecosystem in regards to the January 6th attack on the US Capitol.” He continued, “On January 6th, we leveraged the systems we had built leading up to the election to respond to the unprecedented attack in real-time and are committed to iterating on this work in order to address violent extremism in the US and globally.”
Still, there’s proof suggesting Trump thought-about tweeting much more express calls to motion. After issuing a subpoena to Twitter in January, the committee obtained a draft Trump tweet that explicitly known as for a march on the Capitol. “Please arrive early, massive crowds expected,” the tweet reads. “March to the Capitol after.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), one of many lawmakers main Tuesday’s listening to, gave additional background to the message by saying that Trump was urged by advisors to simply accept his election loss mere hours earlier than issuing the December nineteenth tweet. Instead of accepting the loss, “Donald Trump would issue a tweet that would galvanize his followers, unleash a political firestorm, and change the course of our history as a country,” Raskin mentioned.
Updated July twelfth, 2022, at 3:30PM ET: Included a press release from Twitter.