A former Twitter employee has given new insight into the company’s relations with the White House during the tenure of former President Donald Trump. Anika Navaroli, a former senior member of Twitter’s US Safety Policy, testified before the House Oversight Committee that her team received a request to delete a post criticizing the previous president.
During a hearing with former Twitter officials over their handling of a 2020 New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop, she highlighted the previously unreported interaction. Republicans on the committee have equated Twitter’s initial move to remove links to the story with “censorship,” and the company has been criticized for its interactions with government officials.
However, Navaroli stated that in 2019, Twitter received at least one request from the Trump White House to remove a message. Chrissy Teigen posted the tweet after calling the president a “pussy ass bitch” in reaction to statements he made about her and her husband. According to Navaroli, someone from the White House “reached out to ask that this tweet be removed” and that her team had to evaluate whether the tweet violated the company’s “insults policy.” She said they ultimately determined the tweet did not, and it remained up.
Earlier in the hearing, Navaroli revealed that Twitter has changed its policies on at least one occasion in order to avoid taking action against a Trump post. She said that when Trump used the term in relation to New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and other politicians, the firm withdrew internal “moderation guidance” that referenced “go back to where you came from” as an example of a language that would violate its standards. She said that a higher-ranking official, former trust and safety chief Del Harvey, “overrode” her assessment that the message violated Twitter’s rules.
The hearing was not Navaroli’s first appearance before members of Congress. She previously told the committee probing the January 6th hack about her efforts to notify Twitter officials about possible threats. “Twitter leadership bent and broke their own rules in order to protect some of the most dangerous speech on the platform,” she said in her opening statement.