Former Twitter Trust and Safety boss Yoel Roth admitted Tuesday that the company made a “mistake” censoring the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop during the 2020 presidential election.
Roth, who resigned from his position in early November, confessed the error during a Knight Foundation conference interview with podcast host Kara Swisher.
“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,” Roth said. “But it set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 ‘hack and leak campaign’ alarm bells.”
Roth further noted that he felt “a responsibility to protect the integrity” of conversations relating to foreign governments attempting to interfere in elections on the platform, which ultimately led to the platform removing content surrounding the Post’s report and suspending the news outlet’s account for weeks.
“There were lots of reasons why the entire industry was on alert,” Roth added.
Roth and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg were approached by the FBI ahead of the 2020 election about possible foreign propaganda and misinformation. However, several legacy media outlets, including CBS and The Washington Post, have admitted that the laptop is legitimate after conducting independent investigations and analysis.
“But — so it was a mistake?” Swisher asked.
“In my opinion, yes,” Roth responded.
During the conference, Roth also alleged that Twitter has become less safe since Elon Musk acquired the platform, according to Reuters.
Musk responded to a Wednesday tweet from Tesmanian blogger Eva Fox arguing that the platform lost user trust over the last decade under the former ownership. Fox also called the past trust and safety team a “disgrace” that lacks merit to judge how the new owner operates Twitter.
“They had a chance, but they sold their souls to a corporation,” Fox wrote.
“Exactly,” Musk replied. “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 added that “Twitter 2.0” aims to provide a “far more effective, transparent and even-handed” social media platform.
Exactly. 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.
Twitter 2.0 will be far more effective, transparent and even-handed.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 30, 2022
After a user tweeted if the new owner should “make public all internal discussions about the decision to censor the Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 Election in the interest of Transparency” earlier this month, Musk replied, “This is necessary to restore public trust.”