AP

Twitter worker says he tried to sound alarm on Trump tweets

Jul 12, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:33 pm

Washington (AP) — A Twitter employee told the House committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol that he spent a sleepless night on Jan. 5, 2021, worrying that people might die the next day during a rally that former President Donald Trump regularly promoted with angry rhetoric on his social media accounts.

The Twitter employee’s worst fears were confirmed when nine people were left dead during and in the aftermath of the ensuing riot that broke out when Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

He raised repeated concerns with his employer about Trump’s tweets leading up to the rally, the Jan. 6 committee revealed during its latest public hearing Tuesday. The employee’s voice was altered and his name was withheld to protect his identity in a prerecorded interview. His testimony did not indicate whom he told of his concerns about Trump’s tweets.

After Trump tweeted a Dec. 19 invitation for his followers to gather in Washington to protest the U.S. election results, a torrent of responses, including violent threats, followed, the Twitter employee testified.

“It felt as if a mob was being organized and they were gathering together their weaponry and their logic and their reasoning behind why they were prepared to fight,” he said.

Responses to Trump’s tweets included references to being “locked and loaded” and calls for “civil war,” the employee noted.

Twitter said in an emailed statement that it took “unprecedented steps” to respond to threats during the 2020 election and suspended accounts linked to far-right extremist groups. The company said it has had “ongoing, productive engagement” with the House committee.

In the days leading up to Jan. 6, Trump regularly used Facebook and Twitter to encourage his followers to travel to the Capitol to protest the election results. Last year, The Associated Press identified a series of responses to the president’s posts, which included multiple calls to “fight” and references to militias.

By then, after four years in office, the president had regularly violated the platforms’ policies around misinformation and inciting violence. Both Twitter and Facebook had removed or covered some of Trump’s most egregious posts, but they did not go as far as kicking him off their platforms until after the Capitol riot.

In Twitter’s case, the employee told the committee, that was because they enjoyed the attention Trump’s tweets brought the platform.

“I believe Twitter relished in the knowledge that they were also the favorite and most used service of the former President and enjoyed having that sort of power within the social media ecosystem,” the employee said.

But those messages had power over everyday people, too, including Ohio man Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty last month to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

“I was pretty hardcore into the social media,” Ayers told the committee Tuesday. “I followed President Trump on all of the websites. He basically put out: Come to Stop the Steal rally. I felt like I needed to be down here.”

The day before Ayers and hundreds of others stormed the Capitol, the Twitter employee described to the committee a deflated message he sent to another colleague:

“When people are shooting each other tomorrow, I’ll try to rest in the knowledge that we tried.”

___

For full coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Global technology outage causes chaos on Friday morning...

Associated Press

Faulty software update causes havoc worldwide for airlines, hospitals and governments

A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday morning.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

Donald Trump celebrated by former rivals at Republican National Convention

Former president Donald Trump was celebrated at the Republican National Convention by former rivals, including Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

4 days ago

FILE - Members of the Henderson Fire Department load Deb Billet, 66, into an ambulance before trans...

Associated Press

Things to know about heat deaths as a dangerously hot summer shapes up in the western US

A dangerously hot summer is shaping up in the U.S. West, with heat suspected in dozens of recent deaths.

7 days ago

FILE - Dr. Ruth Westheimer participates in the "Ask Dr. Ruth" panel during the Hulu presentation at...

Associated Press

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, has died

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, media star and best-selling author, has died.

7 days ago

Biden proposes rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat...

Associated Press

Biden proposes new rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat

President Joe Biden on Tuesday proposed a new rule to address excessive heat in the workplace, warning — as tens of millions of people in the U.S. are under heat advisories — that high temperatures are the country's leading weather-related killer.

18 days ago

FILE - Rori Chang, of Glendale, Ariz., walks with her dog Ava as they leave the Maricopa Country An...

Associated Press

Here are ways that can help ease dogs’ July Fourth dread

Those with furry, four-legged family members will be searching for solutions to the Fourth of July anxiety that fireworks bring.

19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Twitter worker says he tried to sound alarm on Trump tweets