Former Twitter executive Yoel Rith has admitted during testimony before Congress that the New York Post’s bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story did not violate the social media company’s policies.
Roth made the admission while testifying on Wednesday morning before the House Oversight Committee over his role in Twitter censorship practices.
As Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, Roth played a key role in the decision to censor the laptop story.
However, he admitted during the hearing that Twitter chose to block the story just days ahead of the 2020 election, despite it not violating their policies.
During the House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) grilled Roth over Twitter’s decision to suspend the Post’s account in the days leading up to the 2020 election.
“Mr. Roth, within just mere minutes or hours after the New York Post published its story on the Hunter Biden laptop, at 8:51 am you sent a message to a team, part of your team, I assume, and you said ‘it isn’t clearly violative of our hack materials policy,’ referring to the story, ‘nor is it clearly in violation of anything else’,” Biggs said to Roth.
“Do you remember sending that message?”
Former Twitter exec Yoel Roth admits the @nypost’s Hunter Biden’s laptop story didn’t violate any of Twitter’s policies.
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) February 8, 2023
Roth replied, “I don’t recall that message specifically, but that does sound like my judgment on that day, yes.”
Citing internal emails revealed in the Twitter Files, Biggs when on to point out how the Big Tech company’s former legal counsel Jim Baker assured Roth that he’s “seen some reliable cyber security folks questioned the authenticity of the emails in another way.”
Biggs then referred to Roth’s reply to Baker that “the key factor in forming our approach is consensus from experts monitoring election security and disinformation, that this looks a lot like a hack and leak that learned from the 2016 Wiki Leaks approach.”
Biggs then asked Roth if he could name any of these so-called experts that reached a consensus that morning.
“Twitter did not give me access to any of my documents or emails to prepare for this hearing,” Roth replied.
“And so, unfortunately, I can’t give you a direct answer.”
“Were there experts, were there people that you consulted, that were cybersecurity experts between 9 am and 10:15 am on that day?” Biggs asked.
Roth cited “cybersecurity experts” who were “tweeting” about the Hunter Biden story as having influenced Twitter’s judgment to censor the story.
“My recollection is that we were following discussions about this incident as they unfolded on Twitter,” Roth conceded.
“So cybersecurity experts were tweeting about this incident and sharing their perspectives and that informed some of Twitter’s judgment here.
“But I want to emphasize, as I said in my statement, I didn’t think that the evidence or those perspectives warranted removal, and I advocated against taking that action.”
Biggs went on to ask how Twitter had determined the Hunter Biden story violated its “hacked materials policy” if no government official was involved in the discussion.
“So the policy did not require that there be any kind of official finding by the government by a government source?” Biggs questioned.
Roth rambled on about how Twitter uses “a number of different types of evidence” to determine the hacked materials policy before admitting, “In that instance, we did not have any specific information from any government source, no.”
Biggs concluded his questioning by lambasting Roth for exercising an “amazing amount of clout and power” in censoring a major news story knowing full well it had not violated any sort of company policy.
“This might be an unpopular opinion, but one-off ad hoc decisions like this that don’t appear rooted in policy are, in my humble opinion, a slippery slope and reflect an alternatively equally dictatorial problem,” Biggs said.
“Quite frankly, that’s what the essence of all four of your testimony — I realize you’re trying to fight against it — but you exercised.
“You exercised an amazing amount of clout and power over the entire American electorate by even holding them hostage for 24 hours reversing your policy and then hold it — and then they’re like, well, we want to go back to the originals.
“That’s 24 hours or two weeks, that you imposed your will on the American electorate,” Biggs concluded.
Notably, during his testimony, Roth argued that “unrestricted free speech leads to less speech, not more.”
Yoel Roth, former head of "trust and safety" at Twitter:
"Unrestricted free speech paradoxically results in less speech, not more" pic.twitter.com/7wcK4eV4nU
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 8, 2023