Twitter Files: Adam Schiff aides pushed to ban humor about Biden ahead of 2020 election

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Rep. Adam Schiff’s staff pushed Twitter executives to remove a post lampooning then-presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden from the platform after it was shared by President Trump, newly released “Twitter Files” show.

The California Democrat’s staff continued to press executives after they refused to remove the parody photograph showing Mr. Biden with his face contorted and tongue sticking out.

Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, rejected the original request to remove the tweet on grounds that it violated Twitter’s manipulated media policy, noting that “any reasonable observer” of the post could determine that it had “humorous intent” and that the photo of Mr. Biden was obviously doctored.

But the aide for Mr. Schiff, who was chairman of the House intelligence committee at the time, was unconvinced by Twitter’s response and pressed further, arguing in an email to executives that the humorous post could open a pandora’s box.

“We’re prepared to accept that it doesn’t fall under the policy given, but there’s a slippery slope concern here, and I think it bears further explanation from Twitter that that is the case,” the staffer wrote. “Because the next iteration of this could easily be more malicious and less obvious.”

The documents revealed on Friday add to previous revelations that Mr. Schiff’s aide on the House intelligence committee lobbied Twitter to ban Real Clear Investigations reporter Paul Sperry from the platform.

The aide in a November 2020 email to Twitter accused Mr. Sperry and Greg Rubini, an author popular among QAnon conspiracy theorists, of promoting false conspiracy theories and harassing committee staff. The email included a list of requests for the platform’s content moderation team, including removing “any and all” content about the committee staff and suspending the two men’s accounts.

“Would like to get your thoughts on your ability if any to support any of these requests,” the email read.

Twitter pledged to review the accounts for suspension but noted that it wasn’t “feasible/we don’t do this” concerning removing content about committee staff.

Mr. Sperry was later suspended for other infractions.

Other emails revealed in the latest batch show Mr. Schiff’s aides also fretted about whether any “deamplification” of Mr. Sperry’s posts would impede law enforcement from pursuing the reporter for “potential threats” made against Intelligence committee aide Sean Misko and others on the panel. 

“We are curious whether any deamplification measures implemented by Twitter’s enforcement team – which we appreciate greatly – could… impede the ability of law enforcement to search Twitter for potential threats about Misko and other HPSCI staff,” a staffer wrote.

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