“There is No Clear Incentive”: Twitter Employees Complain About Life Without Censorship

Twitter LogoThere was a revealing “town hall” meeting of Twitter employees this week where they joined executives in open panic over what life would be like without their ability to censor others. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal attempted to calm the obvious angst that (perish the thought) free speech could return to Twitter.

As clearly distressed employees peppered him with questions, Agrawal admitted “Yes, we could have done things differently and better. I could have done things differently. I think about that a lot.” For civil libertarians, the vague admission left us cold. Agrawal spent his entire time as CEO as someone who dismissed or marginalized the very relevance of free speech values to the company.

Agrawal was asked early in his time as CEO how Twitter would balance its efforts to combat misinformation with wanting to “protect free speech as a core value” and to respect the First Amendment. He responded dismissively that the company is “not to be bound by the First Amendment” and will regulate content as “reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation.” Agrawal said the company would “focus less on thinking about free speech” because “speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.”

Twitter continued its biased censorship program, including bizarre suspensions of satirical sites and one site that re-posted liberals speaking about themselves.

What was striking was the attitude of employees that the actual owners of the company were out of line in seeking a return to a free speech corporate philosophy. Twitter has underperformed for years because it made its name synonymous with censorship. In the meeting, one employee declared  “I’m tired of hearing about shareholder value and fiduciary duty. What are your honest thoughts about the very high likelihood that many employees will not have jobs after the deal closes?”

Another employee declared “The PR speak is not landing. They told us don’t leak and do a job you are proud of, but there is no clear incentive for employees to do this.”

There is an incentive, of course. It is called employment . . . even if you do not view restoring free speech to be a noble purpose.

By the way, Twitter employees were not the only ones having a meltdown. Over at Apple, an open letter addressed to company leadership objected that telling employees to return to work in-person was furthering white dominance and privilege at the company. The company had suggested a hybrid approach requiring workers to simply come in three days a week. That was met with outrage:

“Apple will likely always find people willing to work here, but … being in the office at least 3 fixed days of the week … will make Apple younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied, in short, it will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit.”

That is not likely to amount to a viable EEOC complaint even in the Biden Administration. If anything, the Apple policy is more accommodating than it is required to be. It could legally demand a simple return to work in accordance with the new CDC guidelines.

64 thoughts on ““There is No Clear Incentive”: Twitter Employees Complain About Life Without Censorship”

  1. Jonathan: There are plenty of reasons why the Twitter and Apple rank and file might be unhappy with the conditions of their employment that have nothing to do with “free speech”–at least at Twitter. Apple employees are apparently concerned by the new 3 fixed days in the office requirement. Since the Covid pandemic struck many of our neighbors have been working remotely from home. Our next door neighbors are both research chemists. He works at home while his wife goes to the lab 3 days a week. They like the flex arrangement. Millions of other couples with young children like the convenience of being at home while they work. It also eliminates the often long commute, the high cost of gas, increased cost of auto insurance, etc. And we now know that global warming is causing an increase in animal to human viruses. That means Covid and related viruses are going to be around for some time. Why not give Apple employees the option to work remotely? Apparently upper management doesn’t think Apple employees should be given the option.

    For you there is no sympathy for the average worker at Apple or Twitter. Twitter employees are lucky to have employment. They shouldn’t complain. As for the Apple policy it “… is more accommodating that it is required to be. It could legally demand a simple return to work in accordance with the new CDC guidelines”, you say. I guess Apple employees should also be happy to have their jobs with no right to voice their concerns. Maybe it’s good you are not the Dean at George Washington Law School. If you were it no doubt would be “My way or the highway!”. You take “Scrooge” to a whole new level.

    The mercurial and erratic Elon Musk has given some indication of his future plans. He says his next acquisition will be Coca-Cola so he can put the cocaine back in Coke. Musk’s attempt at humor. As for Twitter Musk wants to further “monetize” the company, e.g., slashing executive pay, charging websites, etc. But of course, ensuring “[m]oderation policies on the social media platform…as free as possible”, he says. Twitter account holders, hold on to your wallets!

    And, in furtherance of “free speech, who are those who are currently banned who can be expected to get back on Twitter? It’s a long list. Charles Johnson was banned in 2015, Remember him? He was banned after fundraising to “take out” a BLM activist. Anyone miss him? Johnson has asked Jared Birchall, a Musk associate, when he can expected to have his account reinstated. The answer from Birchall? “Hopefully soon”. Others who could be reinstated are QAnon loyalists, Covid deniers, neo-Nazis and even Donald Trump. Trump says he prefers to remain on his own platform. Doesn’t make sense since “Truth Social” has pretty much bombed. I suspect the Trumpster will change his mind as the 2024 campaign heats up. But there are others who want back like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon. Bannon was kicked off for calling for the beheading of Dr. Fauci. They are certainly an assorted bunch of crazies. Threats of physical violence don’t seem to come under the “free speech” protection.

    If Musk takes over Twitter it will be a free for all for hate speech and white supremacists–24/7. But, hey, isn’t that what you are really after? As for me, if I were a Twitter account holder I would immediately cancel my subscription. I don’t like the prospect of rubbing elbows with David Duke and his elk. That’s not my idea of “free speech”.

    1. When Titter allows Iranian leadership access to its site while they openly chant “death to America the great satan” they have absolutely no reason of defending their banning of anyone. They are hypocrites of the first order as are any to the left of center. Enough talk about the delicate flowers employed by leftist propaganda facilities, let them traverse the real world and begin to understand just what useless flotsam they truly are to the greater scheme of our national worth.

  2. If you’ve read other stories about the deal.

    All of the current execs who have been quoted in the press are now making excuses saying that they could have done a better job. Or that they made decisions based on what information they had available…

    While it sounds like a cop out… It seems more of a legal strategy to help deflect the blame and potentially legal liability,

    Articles are now reporting that Twitter overstated the number of users.
    And some are even saying that Twitter under performed because of the censorship.
    (Very obvious because Trump created his own platform along with some others that will have limited success…)

    One can expect to see new class action litigation against Twitter in light of recent news.
    I suspect Turley may have some new articles on this topic.

  3. “I’m *tired of hearing about shareholder value* and fiduciary duty. What are your honest thoughts about *the very high likelihood that many employees will not have jobs* after the deal closes?” (Emphases added.)

    Are those people that obtuse?

    1. @Sam,

      Many of the employees will not have jobs at Twitter because those are the people who enjoy censoring others.
      Getting to play ‘god’ can be a power trip that some enjoy.

      The lawyer for example.. will lose her job under Musk. That’s a 17M a year savings.


  4. We have allowed BLM and other protesters to physically march down ramps onto public freeways and other public transportation byways. Public freeways are not “public forums.” Twitter is not a bona fide “public forum.” But Twitter couldn’t tolerate the non-physical public marching of words and ideas across a DIGITAL highway?

    1. (I am qualifying my statement to mean public interstate freeways, etc., used as traditional free speech forums for BLM protesters. I acknowledge “time, space, manner” restrictions in certain circumstances.)

  5. A webpage called CensorTrack.org has compiled an ever growing list of some of the most egregious forms of censorship carried out by Big Tech.

  6. The left and it’s followers have constructed (they thought) a world of narrow padded corridors of acceptable thought and actions and freedom from responsibility for those same actions and where (they thought) that they controlled all the levers of power and risk or no risk. They have recently started to emerge into a world that is outside the corridors. The walls are not padded, The corners are sharp, the ground is uneven, where you can actually fall and fail and be left behind, maybe even blooded and bowed to some extent. Results count and just showing up does not. Where unpredictable things happen that are shocking, frightening, and (god forbid) even threatening. In past times I think it was called THE REAL WORLD. It seems it is starting to leak into their perfect construct. Reality and the universe tends to self correct. We had the “Roaring Twenties” followed by the “Great Depression”. The boom, bust cycle of economies or social change is also usually a self correction. Over exuberance runs up against reality and we don’t get to pick reality. The left and the right should remember that but we too often forget it in the blush of our apparent victory.

  7. We have Americans each and every day getting their kids off to school and then heading to work. They put in 8 hours or more at their job site, return home to feed their families, do homework with their kids, repair the faucet, pay bills, spend some time with their spouses and the next day start all over.

    They complain sometimes like, gas is so high, food prices high, kids clothes cost more, the mortgage is due tomorrow, crime is really bad, will we have enough for vacation this year.

    Then we have the Twitter type.

  8. Trevor Noah says this to President Biden in his comedy routine at last night’s White House Correspondents Dinner:

    “Since you’ve come into office, things are really looking up. Gas is up, rent is up, food is up! Everything!”

    BIDEN: *laughs*

    What’s so funny Mr. President?

    We the People who are suffering *because* of your bad policies say this:


    You will hear our message to you (and the entire Democrat Party) loud and clear in November.

    1. Trevor thinks he is a big supporter of Democrats but that line and Biden’s laughter will be seen in many adds this fall. To see a very rich man in a tuxedo laughing at inflated prices is not a good look. Maybe they should have had the Easter Bunny come and stop Boden from laughing.

  9. I don’t know how the Republicans got the idea that Twitter will have no censorship. You can’t have an online platform without any content moderation. The question is how much and who gets moderates.

    1. Sammy, the issue is whether the restrictions will be based on truth value assessments or substantive content on the one hand or on the traditional very limited judicial categories of unprotected speech on the other. Twitter has been doing the former. Musk appears to lean strongly towards the latter. That is why the Twitter executives and employees are upset: they will no longer be able to control the substantive terms of debate.

    2. I think that Musk said it well. He is shooting for the middle 80%. People to the far right and far left are going to be disappointed.

    3. Dim bulbs like Sammy, or more likely Democrat Bots like Sammy, can’t seem to understand the difference between “censoring” a comment that calls for someone to be killed and censoring a comment from someone that thinks Fed policy is wrong or that the BBB Bill will be harmful to the economy.

      1. Musk is going to censor…but it will be at his whims. There is a person who tweets the location Musk’s plane. Lets see how long that remains active The idea that Musk is some free speech savior is ludicrous. My prediction is that Musk is trying to position himself to be the next Trump and his is buying Twitter to give him the platform he needs..

        1. Sammy, you cannot be that dumb! There is a huge difference between someone putting out there a person’s actual location and someone putting out there a joke about a male “admiral” in a dress. Sammy can’t, or won’t. acknowledge the difference between a direct threat and a comment about public policy. You can have the Post story about Hunter’s laptop and be allowed to censor Hunter’s address. Get it?

    4. Censorship and content moderation are separate issues but that’s not the real issue. Most people including Republicans believe companies that provide social media platforms can regulate content. The issue is that these social media platforms are not censoring or moderating content fairly and are acting as activists.

      1. Companies have a right to free speech. Among other things, the concern should be whether or not these companies are defacto town squares and whether or not their policies are a conduit used by the government to promote government abuse of the First Amendment.

      2. Semantics. It is all about removing content that does not align with company values. Twitter is going from “Lets not be a dumpster of vile crap” to “Whatever Musk does not like goes away”.

    5. @Sammy, you misunderstood.
      Musk is saying no censorship of what is considered legal speech.

      And that’s what makes the most sense. Also the most money.

  10. One small correction to the article. It was not a “town hall’ meeting at Twitter. It was a clown hall meeting.

  11. I just dont understand.

    The right is complaining about getting censored, and the left said, ‘get your own platform’ So exactly what is the problem? Musk isnt even a conservative. Trump is not a conservative. Turley is not conservative.
    But for some reason, People that advocate for liberty and freedom, are enemies of the left.
    That data point really explains all you need to know about today’s leftists

  12. I’m sure these employees will be able to find work in the new DGB.

  13. It’s just too much fun to watch these flying monkeys implode. Kudos to Musk and I think we’re all enjoying the libtard

  14. ‘Limit WHO is heard’

    The message is not a scary as the messenger.

    The left lacks the skills to debate ideas. And they know WHO is dangerous to their agenda.
    The NYT got caught up in that with Tom Cotton. The wrong think, was not in allowing editorial content, but Rather from a person, a sitting Senator, no longer having privileges in the ‘public square’. There was nothing wrong with the idea…it just came from the wrong person.

  15. Twitter executives and employees appear to have viewed their role as defining the terms of acceptable debate. Musk should end that. Those whom he does not fire can then decide whether they want to continue working when that role is eliminated. I imagine they will be easily replaced.

    1. My guess is that Twitter’s policy of censoring required massive amounts of human capitol, so I believe there will be plenty of available people many of whom will eventually have to find new jobs.

      1. I agree, I think one of the reasons that the left is so afraid that Musk will bring transparency is that will reveal this was not all automata filtering span, but humans makign political choices.

        I would further not that in most any significant business – 60% of middle management is NEGATIVE in value.
        You can generally fire 60% of the middle management of a company and have it perform better.

  16. The lead individual in charge of censorship at twitter is paid $17 million per annum. I do believe Musk will save his new company $17 mil a year very shortly. The heads will be rolling at twitter soon enough and those incompetent bias purveyors of lies will be looking for jobs .

    1. Phergus, she was paid 17 million in order to do the dirty work of the Democrat party. The only reason she was caught crying after the announcement is that she knows in her heart that she is the reason Twitter is now gone for them. Gaddes ( I believe that is her name) was behind removing Trump and banning the Post’s Laptop story. She is the reason that people said enough is enough and now Twitter is gone from the partisan battle.

      This is sort of how I feel about the animus that CNN developed towards Trump, on top of their obvious ratings increase by being insanely hateful towards him. CNN gave Trump about a billion dollars of free air time in 2016 because a) he was ratings gold for them and b) they never thought he would win and in fact thought he would hurt the Republicans. After the election they knew that they were in part culpable for Trump’s election and they went insane trying to atone for the evil they felt they committed.

  17. MUSK has Shined a Huge SPOTLIGHT on the Left and their anti-democratic anti constitution anti bill of rights. Musk has the right idea and is indicating the high price MGMT is History along with the DEM Advisors who work for Twitter – He should move the HQ to TEXAS and Leave the Staff in California.

    1. “If I cant’t be Goebbels there is no incentive.”

      A whole generation ruined. We

  18. Meanwhile in Shanghai —-

    Just wait until Musk moves Twitter HQ to Little Rock, or Paducah,, or (gasp) Florida

  19. Agrawal’s comment about limiting who can hear is reminiscent of Stalin (paraphrase):

    “It is not who votes that matters, but who counts the votes.”

    1. They’ve been training the young to be unable to handle reality in stages over the past several decades. Now we have “the young” they’ve trained everywhere, and entitled meltdowns are all we get from them.

      Baby gets disciplined in school? Sue the teacher and principal to stop discipline in schools.
      Baby gets a bad grade? Eliminate grades.
      Baby has feelings hurt by a university group’s invitation to have someone she doesn’t agree with address them? That’s violence against her! And her assaulting the speaker as he tries to leave, sending him to the hospital, is just her own guaranteed “free speech.”
      Baby gets a job where she’s paid to “investigate” and doxx on national fora private citizens who promote views she finds distasteful, and weeps with self-pity over the threats she gets from those who criticize her down-punching ways.

      Frankly, I am glad I am in the twilight of my years on earth.

      1. Ellen Evans: I think I have seen Baby before…in court, asking for damages for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and emotional distress, inter alia. Baby claimed employment discrimination based on race/gender/transgender status. Baby forgot to tell the jury about excessive tardiness, poor hygiene and dress, arguments with customers/clients/co-employees, excessive use of company computers for personal purposes, taking excessive break times, excessive use of sick time, and substandard quality/reduced quantity of work product. The jurors were older than Baby… Baby lost.

        1. We have allowed BLM and other protesters to physically march down ramps onto public freeways and other public transportation byways. Public freeways are not “public forums.” Twitter is not a bona fide “public forum.” But Twitter couldn’t tolerate the non-physical public marching of words and ideas across a DIGITAL highway?

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