Updated Jul 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Ex-Twitter employee feared Trump was speaking directly to extremists on platform

A tweet by former President Donald Trump displayed on a screen during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol.
A tweet by former President Donald Trump displayed on a screen during a hearing of the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A former Twitter employee told the Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday that former President Trump seemed to be "speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives" on the platform.

Driving the news: The former Twitter employee also testified that the platform considered adopting a "stricter" moderation policy after Trump told the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" during the first 2020 presidential debate, but the company "chose not to act."

  • The social media company "relished" in the knowledge that they were the "favorite and most used service of the former President and enjoyed having that sort of power within the social media ecosystem," the former employee said.
  • “My concern was that the former president for seemingly the first time was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives,” the employee said.
  • “We had not seen that sort of direct communication before, and that concerned me.”
  • The former Twitter employee also recalled being concerned on Jan. 5 that the subsequent day could be violent, saying "we were at the whims and the mercy of a violent crowd that was locked and loaded."

The big picture: The Jan. 6 panel presented additional evidence to link Trump's tweet to the violence of that day, including a testimony by Jim Watkins, the administrator of 8kun, an online forum that is the home of the QAnon conspiracy.

  • "When the President of the United States announced that he was going to have a rally. Then I bought a ticket and went," Watkins testified.

Go deeper: Jan. 6 hearing to focus on Trump allies and extremist groups

Editor's note: This story has been updated with further details. It has also been corrected to show that Trump's "stand back and stand by" comment to the Proud Boys came during a presidential debate, not in a tweet.

Go deeper