Kara Swisher: ‘Almost nothing’ newsworthy in ‘Twitter Files’

[CUOMO]

(NewsNation) — After digesting five releases of internal Twitter documents, people are now asking what the major takeaway of the “Twitter Files” is.

For Kara Swisher, from a news perspective, it’s “almost nothing.”

The release of the internal communications between Twitter staff has given a more in-depth look at how the social media company went about content moderation. In particular, the five-part installment that was initially reported by independent journalists via Twitter threads zeroed in on the company’s decision to limit the spread of a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop and to ban Donald Trump.

Swisher, a tech journalist and host of the “On with Kara Swisher” podcast, was mentioned in one of the tweets by Michael Shellenberger, who released part four of the series and chronicled Jan. 7, the day before Trump’s ban. The social media company long resisted calls to take such an action, “But after the events of Jan 6, the internal and external pressure on Twitter CEO @jack grows,” Shellenberger wrote.

He noted Swisher was among those calling for Trump’s ban, along with Michelle Obama and the Anti-Defamation League. Swisher advocated for Trump’s ban in a piece in Intelligencer, arguing the former president is a “persistent violator of platform rules who cynically games their laudable impulse toward allowing as much speech as possible.”

Swisher joined “CUOMO” on Tuesday to discuss the release of the company documents, which she said could have been more interesting had the content moderation decisions by Twitter staff been analyzed through a different lens, something other than a “partisan light.”

“I felt it was too ‘explosive’ and things like that when in fact it was a very interesting look at how difficult content moderation is and how much these people try to do an impossible job,” Swisher said. “It’s all based on people’s opinions, it naturally gets people angry and everybody has a different take, so … it was interesting how much they disagreed, and what they did to resolve it and ultimately how futile it was to to be able to do this.”

Twitter’s content moderation policies have always been a subject of interest for Elon Musk, who bought the social media platform earlier this year after railing against what he said was subjective censorship and suppression of speech by the company. His critics argued Musk’s philosophies would allow hate speech and conspiracy theories to thrive.

Since his takeover, banned accounts have been restored. On Monday, the company’s Trust and Safety Council was dissolved. But action has also been taken against accounts, most notably that of Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who Musk banned for making antisemitic remarks.

The documents are being reported by independent journalists including Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi, who have disclosed that the only stipulation was that the documents first be released on Twitter. Weiss, who recently launched a media startup The Free Press, said the authors “have broad and expanding access to Twitter’s files.”

Noting the stipulations, which she called “problematic,” Swisher believes more evaluations could be made if the entire trove of documents were released. Musk has not stated whether he is the one who gave access to the files, though Swisher said the dots can be pretty easily connected.

“It was a lot directed by Musk. He pretended he didn’t know anything about it but then kept flacking it,” Swisher said. “The problem is you just don’t know what isn’t in there.”

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