So, we already noted that Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee’s grandstanding hearing about Twitter revealed how Trump’s White House asked Twitter to remove a tweet from Chrissy Teigen that mocked the then president by calling him a “pussy ass bitch.” Apparently Trump’s fragile ego couldn’t handle that level of insult, and so he had to ask for it to be taken down.
Soon after that came out, Rolling Stone released a report, quoting a variety of former Twitter employees and Trump officials, noting that this was a regular thing from Republican officials in both Congress and the White House.
But former Trump administration officials and Twitter employees tell Rolling Stone that the White House’s Teigen tweet demand was hardly an isolated incident: The Trump administration and its allied Republicans in Congress routinely asked Twitter to take down posts they objected to — the exact behavior that they’re claiming makes President Biden, the Democrats, and Twitter complicit in an anti-free speech conspiracy to muzzle conservatives online.
“It was strange to me when all of these investigations were announced because it was all about the exact same stuff that we had done [when Donald Trump was in office],” one former top aide to a senior Trump administration official tells Rolling Stone. “It was normal.”
The article does note that some powerful Democrats made similar requests, and Twitter set up a sort of “database” of requests from thin-skinned politicians. The report notes that these very same Republicans who are running around insisting that the FBI flagging some tweets for Twitter to review under its own policies… were doing the exact same thing:
But during both the Trump and Biden presidencies, these types of moderation requests or demands were routinely sent to Twitter by the staff of influential GOP lawmakers — ones with names like Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik.
Oftentimes, requests would demand Twitter stop “shadowbanning” certain conservative accounts, or that the company reinstate banned or suspended right-wing personas. Other times, offices of senior Trump administration officials would send emails seeking to remove tweets that they believed to be “hate speech” or death threats aimed at their principals. And over the years, the knowledgeable sources say, staffers for Republican officials would regularly flag to Twitter content that they believed violated the app’s terms of service or other policies, including on spreading “misinformation” or “disinformation.”
Now, as we’ve explained over and over again, simply flagging content as potentially violating the rules is not a problem, so long as there is no coercion or threats of coercion associated with it. Where one draws the line on that is at least somewhat complicated, but the simple fact is that the very same GOP that is whining about this… was apparently as active, if not more so, in doing the same damn things.
Most people would call that hypocritical.
The obvious irony here is, the sources note, that Republican leaders and elected officials have long been committing precisely the kind of “government interference” that they are now investigating, fundraising off of, and accusing Democrats and the so-called anti-Trump “Deep State” of perpetrating. Some of the loudest conservative and MAGA voices on Capitol Hill — who’ve been endlessly demanding taxpayer-funded, high-profile investigations into Big Tech “bias” and “collusion” — were themselves engaged in the behavior they now claim is colluding.
And, again, all of this seems to raise questions about why none of these requests from Republicans seem to be showing up in any of Elon Musk’s Twitter files?
More Law-Related Stories From Techdirt:
House Oversight Committee Wanted To Berate Twitter’s Old Management Over Hunter Biden’s Laptop; Instead, It Revealed Trump Censorship Attempts
Lazy Reporters Claiming Fediverse Is ‘Slumping,’ Despite Massive Increase In Usage
Elon Musk Is Basically Zero Percent Of The Way Towards His Goal In Signing Up Users To Twitter Blue