Anonymous testimony from an ex-Twitter employee was shared during Tuesday’s public hearing of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, regarding President Donald Trump’s “will be wild” tweet from December 2020. “It felt as if a mob was being organized,” the ex-Twitter employee said.
JAMIE RASKIN: The committee has interviewed a former Twitter employee who explained the effect that Trump had on the Twitter platform. This employee was on the team responsible for platform and content moderation policies on Twitter throughout 2020 and 2021. The employee testified that Twitter considered adopting a stricter content moderation policy after President Trump told the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" from the lectern at the September 29 presidential debate. But Twitter chose not to act. Here's the former employee, whose voice has been obscured to protect their identity, discussing Trump's "stand back and stand by" comment and the effect it had.
- My concern was that the former president for seemingly the first time was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives. We had not seen that sort of direct communication before, and that concerned me.
- So just to clarify further, you were worried and others at Twitter were worried that the president might use your platform to speak directly to folks who might be incited to violence?
- Yes. I believe that Twitter relished in the knowledge that they were also the favorite and most used service of the former president and enjoyed having that sort of power within the social media ecosystem.
- If President Trump were anyone else, would it have taken until January 8, 2021, for him to be suspended?
- Absolutely not. If Donald-- if former President Donald Trump were any other user on Twitter, he would have been permanently suspended a very long time ago.
JAMIE RASKIN: Despite these grave concerns, Trump remained on the platform completely unchecked. Then came the December 19 tweet and everything it inspired. Indeed.
- It was-- it felt as if a mob was being organized and they were gathering together their weaponry and their logic and their reasoning behind why they were prepared to fight prior to December 19. Again, it was vague. It was-- it was non-specific, but very clear that individuals were ready, willing, and able to take up arms.
After this tweet on December 19, again, it became clear not only were these individuals ready and willing, but the leader of their cause was asking them to join him in this cause and fighting for this cause in DC on January 6 as well. I will also say, what shocked me was the responses to these tweets, right? So these were a lot of the "locked and loaded," "stand back, stand by," those tweets were in response to Donald Trump saying things like this, right?
So there would be a response that said "Big protests in DC on January 6, be there, be wild," and someone would respond and say, "I'm locked and loaded and ready for Civil War part II." Right? I very much believe that Donald Trump posting this tweet on December 19 was essentially staking a flag in DC on January 6 for his supporters to come and rally.
- And you were concerned about the potential for this gathering becoming violent?