Yoel Roth, the former manager over Twitter’s department of Trust & Safety, admitted Tuesday the platform should not have censored the Hunter Biden laptop story.
After the New York Post published the explosive story just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, Twitter deliberately shut down the story, suspending the Post from publishing content on its account and blocking users from sharing the story.
Twitter claimed the story violated the platform’s policy barring the “distribution of hacked materials.” It turned out that nothing was hacked, and the story was true.
What did Roth say?
Roth, who left Twitter earlier this month after Elon Musk’s acquisition, claimed the story emanated “smoke,” a suggestion that it was “misinformation” meant to sow discord in the election.
Still, Roth made sure to absolve himself from responsibility for ultimately deciding to censor the story.
“We didn’t know what to believe, we didn’t know what was true, there was smoke — and ultimately for me, it didn’t reach a place where I was comfortable removing this content from Twitter,” he said. “But it set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 ‘hack and leak campaign’ alarm bells.”
Roth claimed that “everything” about the story “looked” and “smelled” like a “hack and leak” campaign.
When asked directly whether Twitter made a mistake by censoring the Hunter Biden story, Roth conceded, “Yes.”
(Roth’s comments about the story begin around the 25:45 minute mark):
Roth framed his comments around concerns stemming from Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. He said the entire tech industry was on high alert to ensure foreign actors did not use their platforms for a disinformation campaign in the 2020 election.
Musk responded on Wednesday to Roth’s accusation that Twitter is less safe under his control.
“The obvious reality, as long-time users know, is that Twitter has failed in trust & safety for a very long time and has interfered in elections,” Musk said. “Twitter 2.0 will be far more effective, transparent and even-handed.”
— Reuters (@Reuters)