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- A former top Twitter official said the social network bent its rules for Trump’s 2019 racist tweet.
- At the time, Trump told four Democratic lawmakers of color to “go back” to the countries they came from.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the targets of the tweet, was clearly animated by what she learned.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday lit into complaints about anti-conservative bias on Twitter after a former Twitter employee testified that the social network changed its policies in 2019 to accommodate President Donald Trump’s racist tweets that told four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from.
“My team made the recommendation that for the first time, we find Donald Trump in violation of Twitter’s policies and use the public interest interstitial,” former Twitter employee Anika Navaroli, who worked on the company’s content moderation team, testified to lawmakers.
Ocasio-Cortez, who was one of the four congresswomen Trump was attacking, was clearly outraged over how the social network later decided to bend its policies to allow the president’s message. Navaroli testified that her team’s finding was overruled by Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety Del Harvey.
“So much for bias against right-wing on Twitter,” Ocasio-Cortez said, concluding the line of questioning.
—CSPAN (@cspan) February 8, 2023
Democrats and some Republicans criticized Trump for the 2019 tweet, which targeted “the Squad,” a group of progressive Democratic lawmakers composed of Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Ocasio-Cortez. What was particularly galling about Trump’s message is that he said the congresswomen “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.”
Navaroli also said that at the time Twitter included an example of using the phrase “go back to your country” in a list of banned language against immigrants. She said that this content moderation guidance was suddenly changed in the days after Trump’s tweet was allowed to stand unchanged. The recommendation had been for Trump’s tweets to be labeled but allowed to remain on the platform since he was a public figure.
Trump was mostly mistaken; three of the lawmakers were born in the US. While Omar fled Somalia as a child before becoming a naturalized citizen as a teenager. Regardless, there is a long and ugly history behind telling people of color to go back to another country.
House Republicans, who now hold a slight majority in the chamber, summoned Navaroli and other top former Twitter officials to testify before the House Oversight Committee about the social network’s handling of The New York Post’s initial report about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Twitter was repeatedly criticized for allowing Trump’s tweets to stand. Following the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, the social network banned the president “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Elon Musk allowed Trump back on the platform after the Tesla CEO paid $44 billion to take over the company and make it private.
The now-former president has yet to use his account. Current Twitter representatives did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.