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Former Twitter safety executive Yoel Roth, who quit after Elon Musk bought the company, defended his decision to repeatedly suspend the satire site The Babylon Bee and the popular account Libs of Tik Tok from the platform during his tenure. He spoke last week with New York Magazine contributing editor Kara Swisher at a conference called Informed, Conversations on Democracy in the Digital Age.
Roth started by singling out the Twitter account Libs of TikTok, which has been suspended several times, most recently in September, for being “dangerous”:
We have seen from a number of Twitter accounts, including Libs of TikTok, notably, that there are orchestrated campaigns, that particularly are singling out a a group that is already particularly vulnerable within society. And so, yeah, not only is not funny, but it is dangerous and it does contribute to an environment that makes people unsafe in the world.
So Yoel Roth is now the arbitrator of what’s funny? Also, LOTT is known for posting videos made by other people that simply expose the sexualization of children openly admitted to by teachers and others. The account was also accused of “targeting” hospitals because it re-posted videos of doctors talking about the “gender-affirming” care they provide to minors, and detransitioners wishing they’d never gone down that path. The account merely posts what’s happening out there—but that’s somehow dangerous?
It’s as if Twitter or another site decided we could no longer post videos of Joe Biden mangling the English language or tottering around aimlessly on the stage; such criticism might make the world “unsafe” for him.
“The truth is I haven’t engaged in hateful conduct. I’ve just exposed the Left’s depravity by reporting the facts,” LOTT account owner Chaya Raichik wrote on her blog after her last suspension. “There’s no rule against that, so they have to make up violations I’ve never committed.”
Roth defends the decision to ban @TheBabylonBee: “Not only is it not funny, it is dangerous”
Kara Swisher, no fan of the Babylon Bee, gently disagrees — noting that the account was engaged in satire. “It’s still misgendering,” Roth insists pic.twitter.com/BlwksaKDH3
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) December 4, 2022
Moving on to the Babylon Bee, Roth said he suspended the account because it “misgendered” Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine by calling the official “Man of the Year” despite the Assistant Secretary self-identifying as a woman.
Swisher hit back, saying that the Bee should not have been cut off, that the article was clearly satire, and that the move backfired because it caused Musk to buy the company. Roth wasn’t swayed [emphasis mine]:
There can be a very long and academic discussion of satire and the lines there. Interestingly, Apple tried to tease out this question of satire and political commentary in their own guidelines, which I think are also fraught. We landed on the side of enforcing our rules as written.
You can almost see him as your annoying high school principal sniffing, “a rule’s a rule. Doesn’t matter if it makes sense.”
He goes on to describe how “terrifying” his life has become because of his notoriety, specifically pointing to his appearance on the cover of the NY Post after he applied misinformation tags to former President Donald Trump’s posts. What, he thought he could flag the account of the sitting president of the United States and nobody was going to notice? He makes sure to squeeze in some woke buzzwords along the way: “And I say this from a position of unquestioned privilege as a cis white male, like, the internet is much scarier and much worse for lots of other people who aren’t me, but it was pretty f****ing scary for a long time.”
Yoel Roth confesses he was “deeply terrified” by Trump supporters who criticized him for applying “misinformation” labels to Trump’s tweets. “I experienced those harms,” he recounts pic.twitter.com/IuRrhenEWl
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) December 4, 2022
It’s scary that guys (and gals) like this are in such control of what you can and can’t say. Luckily, he’s gone—at least from Twitter—but there are other folks at places like Facebook who will certainly attempt to carry on the censorship mantle.
–> See also: RedState’s extensive coverage of the Babylon Bee and Libs of TikTok
Watch the full conversation:
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