Twitter may soon start opening up more about some of its most controversial decisions.
The company’s safety team wants to begin publishing public “case studies” explaining Twitter’s decisions to ban or suspend high-profile accounts, said Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Trust & Safety lead.
Speaking on Joe Rogan’s podcast Tuesday, Gadde said she wants to make the reasoning behind Twitter’s decisions more clear to the public.
“We’re thinking of doing something we call case studies. Essentially this is our case law, this is what we use, and so high profile cases, cases people ask us about, like to actually publish this so that we can go through, you know, tweet by tweet just like this.” she said.
“Because I think a lot of people just don’t understand, and they don’t believe us when we’re saying these things so to put that out there so people can see and they may disagree with the calls that we’re making but we want them to at least see why we’re making these calls. I want to at least start that by the end of this year.”
Though Gadde didn’t reference any specific accounts that might be candidates for public case studies, Twitter’s decision to ban Alex Jones and Jacob Wohl came up at other points in the discussion, which also included CEO Jack Dorsey and Tim Pool.
This would be a major shift for the company. In the past, Twitter has insisted that its policy prevents it from commenting on individual accounts. For years, this was the standard reply whenever a journalist inquired about anything having to do with a specific account, whether it related to a suspension, a DMCA takedown, or anything else. Critics have said this policy allows Twitter to act without ever having to explain controversial decisions.
And, as recently as two weeks ago, the company told Reuters it doesn’t comment on specific accounts for “privacy and security reasons.”
That’s begun to shift more recently — Twitter publicly tweeted about its decision to ban Alex Jones, for example — but the company has still declined to discuss specific tweets. On Tuesday, though, Gadde recited several specific tweets when asked about action taken against Carl Benjamin, the right-wing YouTuber known as Sargon of Akkad.
The discussion, along with Gadde’s comments about public case studies, appears to suggest that Twitter has been re-thinking the “we don’t comment on individual accounts” policy, at least in some cases. The company used the excuse just two weeks ago, when it told Reuters that it doesn’t comment on specific accounts for “privacy and security reasons,” in response to a story on an Indian journalist facing harassment.
I asked Twitter to clarify the policy and a spokesperson said the company is looking to increase transparency around its product, policies, and processes.
That doesn’t actually explain much (ironic for a company trying to increase transparency) but Gadde’s comments are much more clear. She said her intention is to start publishing case studies by the end of the year.
And while we still don’t know exactly what these will look like, that would actually give a new window into Twitter’s decision-making.