TWITTER FILES: Twitter Provided Privileged Access To Banning Queen, Taylor Lorenz

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Authored by Paul D. Thacker via The Disinformation Chronicle – subscribe here (emphasis ours),


Shortly after Elon Musk purchased Twitter last October, he reinstated several accounts the company had banned, triggering anxiety among tech savvy reporters and eliciting a blaring headline from one of his greatest critics, the Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz: ‘Opening the gates of hell’: Musk says he will revive banned accounts.”

Her detractors portray Lorenz as hyperbolic and anxious, a characterization she fulfilled by charging that Musk was setting off alarms across the internet, “Elon Musk plans to reinstate nearly all previously banned Twitter accounts — to the alarm of activists and online trust and safety experts.”

Reinstating banned Twitter accounts certainly alarmed Taylor Lorenz as well. According to newly disclosed Twitter files, Lorenz successfully banned an account only a few weeks prior to publishing her Washington Post essay. Other files show Lorenz behind other bans and that Twitter seemed to have a special relationship with her, sending out an alert after Tucker Carlson did a short segment on Fox News ridiculing her often-criticized reporting.

The month before Lorenz’s article alleging that Musk was “opening the gates of hell”, she successfully pushed to ban a Twitter account with a small following called @fearthefloof. This account dug into her past and detailed her life as a Manhattan rich girl, who attended a Swiss boarding school, and has a well-connected sister named Brook Lorenz—a publicist who has worked at CNN, the Washington Post and CBS News.

According to this now deactivated account, Lorenz is also able to scrub much of her past from web searches because her uncle owns the internet archive, which stores old webpages.

After Lorenz reported @fearthefloof, Twitter executives looked for possible violations of rules, but apparently found none, concluding the account was “generally healthy and mostly conversational or commentary in nature.” Nonetheless, the account was suspended for violating “Twitter media policy.”

The @fearthefloof tweets on Lorenz were then published on this website. I asked Lorenz by email to identify any false tweets by the account, but she did not respond.

Digging through Twitter’s files, I discovered other examples where Twitter granted Lorenz special privileges. After Tucker Carlson did a brief March 2021 Fox News segment deriding Lorenz’s penchant for labeling criticism of herself as “harassment,” one Twitter official alerted colleagues to monitor tweets about the Post columnist—“We need to be careful with her.

This image inside Twitter of Lorenz as “victim” was likely aided by her near constant stream of complaints, asking Twitter to take down and suspend accounts. In another example, last fall, Lorenz reported and successfully suspended the account of Stanford professor Jay Bhattacharya after he tweeted an email one of her journalist friends sent him.

“It’s shocking that a journalist at the Washington Post would get involved in a minor twitter squabble,” said Bhattacharya, who described the email as harassing. “It’s even more shocking that Twitter responded.”

Wow! She’s a heavy user,” a Twitter engineer guffawed, as he guided me through Twitter’s reporting system.

In her November Washington Post essay complaining about Musk, Lorenz quoted Caraballo, the transgender activist at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic. As Caraballo told Lorenz:

Apple and Google need to seriously start exploring booting Twitter off the app store. What Musk is doing is existentially dangerous for various marginalized communities. It’s like opening the gates of hell in terms of the havoc it will cause. People who engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, vicious bullying, calls for violence, celebration of violence. I can’t even begin to state how dangerous this will be.

A month before complaining to Taylor Lorenz that online stores should consider banning Twitter, Caraballo emailed Twitter a private letter on October 4, asking that they permanently ban @LibsofTikTok. Lorenz had reported on Libs of TikTok some months prior: “Meet the woman behind Libs of TikTok, secretly fueling the right’s outrage machine.”

In the email, Caraballo expressed “imminent public safety risks” caused by Libs of TikTok that were alleged to be inciting violence. “We would like to schedule a meeting within the coming days regarding this matter and would appreciate it if you could respond by Tuesday, October 11th.”

“All I do is just share what people put on Tik Tok, in their own words, which is scary to them,” Libs of TikTok’s Raichik told me. “And this tears apart their narratives, because it’s first-hand evidence of how extreme they are. When they can’t debate their ideas, they then resort to censorship. And the first step was doxing me, and Taylor Lorenz showing up at my family’s house.”

The day after Caraballo asked for Libs of TikTok to be banned, a Twitter employee wrote that Taylor Lorenz had reported an account called @fearthefloof. The email implies that Lorenz had successfully banned another account called @RobProvince. In this case, as in many others, the Twitter employee asked to see if violations could be found from multiple angles.

Could you please check this handle (@fearthefloof) for ban evasion? Taylor Lorenz, a journalist that has been doxxed many times, has reported his tweets to me. She believes that it is the same person that was behind @RobProvince account that has been banned.

If it is not ban evasion please check private media/harassment. Thank you.

Twitter’s investigations of that account seems to have found no violations of ban evasion, abusive safety policies, harassment toward Taylor Lorenz, platform manipulation, or the sharing of personal information.

The account was generally healthy and mostly conversational or commentary in nature.”

Lorenz’s concerns about doxing ring somewhat hollow. In her Washington Post essay exposing Chaya Raichik as the person behind Libs of TikTok, Lorenz’s piece had a link to Raichik’s work address. In a defamation lawsuit filed in August 2021 and still working its way through the courts, Lorenz is also accused of doxing Ariadna Jacob in a New York Times article “Trying to Make It Big Online? Getting Signed Isn’t Everything.”

According to the lawsuit, Lorenz’s article linked to Jacob’s home address:

“We need to be careful with her.”

Lorenz seems to have had allies and protectors inside Twitter. In a March 2021 segment on Fox News, Tucker Carlson gave a mocking portrayal of Lorenz, comparing her to Meghan Markle, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton, saying that Lorenz has “one of the best lives in the country.”

The above is a truncated version of the full report, which can read here – including ‘the wrath of Taylor Lorenz on the warpath’ and how she encouraged people to sic the Department of Justice on someone.

 

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