Yesterday Politico published a story about Twitter’s top lawyer who runs their trust and safety team. That position has put Vijaya Gadde at the forefront of some controversial moves over the past several years including the decision to temporarily block the NY Post‘s Hunter Biden story just prior to the 2020 election. All of this came up again yesterday when Saagar Enjeti highlighted the story and mentioned that Gadde had “censored the Hunter Biden laptop story.” Elon Musk responded to that tweet saying the decision was “obviously incredibly inappropriate.”
Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
It’s important to note that Gadde’s role in the decision wasn’t a secret revealed by Enjeti. It was mentioned in the Politico story he was tweeting about:
Gadde holds one of the most controversial positions at Twitter: Her teams decide how to moderate content. That’s made her a target of right-wing criticism, particularly when Twitter blocked the distribution of a New York Post article about President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in 2020. She faced a renewed wave of criticism after multiple reports confirmed she was behind the decision to ban Trump from Twitter.
So all that really happened here is that Politico published a story about what was happening at Twitter, a conservative podcast host highlighted part of it and Elon Musk responded by saying the decision (note he’s referring to the policy not the person) to block a true story on Twitter was “incredibly inappropriate.” As I pointed out yesterday, this is something that the company’s co-founder Jack Dorsey said 18 months ago.
But immediately some reporters went into full freak-out mode and suggested Musk was targeting Gadde for abuse. That’s basically the story the Washington Post went with today under the headline, “Elon Musk boosts criticism of Twitter executives, prompting online attacks.”
Musk’s response Tuesday was the first time he targeted specific Twitter executives by using his nearly singular ability to call attention to topics that interest him. Supporters of Musk, a prolific and freewheeling tweeter with 86 million followers, tend to pile on with his viewpoints…
Personal attacks from Musk are a nightmare scenario for Twitter employees, who in recent weeks have repeatedly expressed concerns in interviews and at a companywide town hall that they could be targeted by the world’s richest man.
Twitter users quickly piled onto the criticism of Gadde, including calling on Musk to fire her and using racist language to describe her. Gadde was born in India and immigrated to the United States as a child. One user said she would “go down in history as an appalling person.”
Obviously I don’t support anyone using racist language against people born in India or anywhere else. The author doesn’t link to or quote any such comments. More on that in a moment. What we do know is that Elon Musk is not responsible for the bad behavior of third parties on Twitter. Musk didn’t use any racist language and he didn’t encourage anyone else to do so.
As for calling Gadde “an appalling person” I think I found the original tweet the author of the Post story is referring to. Here it is, a quote tweet from an account with, wait for it….15 followers:
— Teddy 🇬🇧 🇮🇱 🇺🇦 (@tedby_b397) April 26, 2022
There’s nothing wrong with that tweet. People are free to believe Gadde is an appalling person just as they are free to feel that way about Elon Musk. But it’s worth noting that the number of people who would have seen the contents of this particular tweet might have been in the dozens (including people who scrolled through responses) if it hadn’t been highlighted by the Washington Post.
This morning Saagar Enjeti pointed out the shoddy way in which the Post approached him to comment about this at 2 am last night.
2/ The Twitter executive I mentioned *literally* went on the Joe Rogan Experience and is therefore the definition of a public figure. My criticism of her for a policy she publicly has defended is in no way responsible for what some rando account may say to her pic.twitter.com/HmSQ1JKY7n
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) April 27, 2022
The Post story went up at 3:03 am eastern time so they gave Enjeti 57 minutes to reply in the middle of the night. But have a look at the questions they sent him. They’re not about him at all. They’re about how Elon Musk feels and what Musk hopes to accomplish. How would Enjeti possibly know this?
Also notice one more detail about this. The Post‘s Elizabeth Dwoskin writes “For example, one of the commenters on the tweets made racist comments against Gadde.” So we’re talking about one tweet as of an hour before publication. Dwoskin didn’t mention that in the story itself. Instead she wrote “Twitter users quickly piled onto the criticism of Gadde, including calling on Musk to fire her and using racist language to describe her.” She didn’t say there was more than one racist tweet but she left it to the reader’s imagination.
But it really appears as if the objectionable material which the Post is portraying as a wave of attacks is really just two tweets, one that was racist and one that went to 15 people. Who knows, maybe there’s more objectionable material out there but that seems to be all they came up with to back up a story headlined “Elon Musk boosts criticism of Twitter executives, prompting online attacks.” This is such an absurd overreach in so many ways I’m a bit surprised the Post isn’t embarrassed by it.
Last word to Enjeti who makes the point well: “This is a great example of how the media smears you.”
4/ This is a great example of how the media smears you. I make a substantive point, randos say something. Now myself and @elonmusk and somehow racist/responsible for them!
All to cover up the fact that they substantively agree with censorship
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) April 27, 2022