The many offenses of Gadde

As Elon Musk completed the takeover of Twitter on October 28, 2022, he immediately fired top executives Parag Agarwal (CEO), Ned Segal (CFO) and Vijaya Gadde (Chief Legal Officer).

Two of the three dismissed executives, Parag and Vijaya happen to be of Indian origin. Most of the linked tweets seem to focus on former Twitter legal expert and lawyer Vijaya Gadde, who has worked at Twitter since 2011.

Gadde was the senior executive responsible for overseeing Twitter’s trust and safety, legal, and public policy functions. She was instrumental in making controversial content restriction and censorship decisions during her time at Twitter.

She had courted controversy in the United States and India by appearing to make decisions more aligned with the left-liberal side. She was seen internally as Twitter’s “moral authority” and the executive charged with dealing with sensitive issues like harassment and dangerous speech.

She guided Twitter through some of its most contentious political battles, including decisions to remove all political advertising and ban former US President Donald Trump from the platform following the mob attack. of January 6, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, in which supporters of Trump’s Republican party allegedly tried to overturn the 2020 US presidential results in favor of the opposition Democratic party – a stance that won his fans as well as a large contingent of right-wing critics on Twitter.

She convinced then-CEO Jack Dorsey not to sell political ads during the 2020 US presidential election. She defended the decision, saying, “It was nothing but “It’s the right thing to do for us as a company.”

In India, too, she had courted bad press and come under fire when she appeared to appease India’s left-liberal lobby.

In 2018, Gadde joined then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for meetings in India where they spoke with several Dalit activists about their experiences on Twitter.

After the meeting, activists gave Dorsey a sign that read “Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy”, which he was later photographed holding. The photograph sparked controversy, with some critics calling the sentiment discriminatory against Brahmins while others deemed it an appropriate response to caste- and gender-based oppression in India. She appears to have hung out and been photographed with a group of left-wing liberal women, including journalist Burkha Dutt and offensive poster designer Thenmozhi Soundararajan.

In November 2018, Anna MM Veticad, a Christian, tweeted: “During Twitter CEO @jack’s visit here, he and Twitter legal officer @vijaya took part in a panel discussion with some of us women journalists, activists, writers and @TwitterIndia’s @amritat to discuss the Twitter experience in India. A very insightful and wordless conversation.

In response to Anna’s tweet above, Rajiv Malhotra of The Infinity Foundation, a Hindu advocacy group, responded as follows.

Vijaya Gadde responded to the social media furore in India, with an apology in a series of tweets: “I’m so sorry for this. This does not reflect our opinions. We took a private photo with a gift that was just given to us – we should have been more considerate. Twitter strives to be an unbiased platform for everyone. We have failed to do that here and we need to do better to serve our customers in India.

Another controversial censorship decision that has come back to bite her, is when she decided to block certain content and temporarily suspend the Twitter account of the American newspaper The New York Post, when the newspaper tweeted news about the current American president. Joe Biden. son, Hunter Biden, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Critics claimed the move was skewed in favor of left-liberals.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk disagrees with Vijaya’s views on content restriction and censorship. He called on Twitter to truly embrace freedom of speech and advocated open-sourcing Twitter’s algorithm and removing all spambots from the platform. More importantly, Musk signaled that he supports a considerable relaxation of the company’s content moderation policies, suggesting that it should only remove content if required by law. It would be a huge change for the company, which has spent years under Vijaya creating elaborate guidelines to reduce the amount of vitriolic and threatening content on its platform.

On the debate over freedom of speech and free speech, Gadde herself had argued strongly for Twitter’s policies to protect its most vulnerable users while protecting free speech — a position that is in dispute. blatant contradiction with that of Musk.

In 2015, Gadde wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, a left-liberal-leaning article. She wrote: “I am often inspired by the vigorous debates on controversial issues that occur on Twitter, but I have also been seriously disturbed by the plight of some of our users who are completely overwhelmed by those trying to silence healthy speech in the name of freedom of expression.

In the article, Gadde continues: “Sometimes this takes the form of hate speech in tweets directed at women or minority groups; to others, it takes the form of threats aimed at intimidating those who take a stand on issues.

Earlier this year, Elon Musk said he would reverse Donald Trump’s Twitter ban that Gadde previously imposed, although the former US president said he would not return to the platform. He instead launched his own social media app called Truth Social.

Shortly after the takeover, Musk made his position on free speech and minimal censorship clear (as opposed to the extensive censorship under Vijaya’s lawful leadership), tweeting along with American conservatives and right-wing commentators. , Mike Cernovich and Saagar Enjeti (an American Indian).

On Tuesday, Musk responded to a tweet from Saagar Enjeti, the popular Indian American conservative podcast host, who shared a “Politico” story about Vijaya Gadde. She had apparently burst into tears during a corporate meeting discussing Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

Musk said suspending a major news organization’s Twitter account for posting a true story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.

Musk agreed that Vijaya Gadde’s decision to limit the New York Post story to the Hunter Biden laptop in 2020, fearing it was based on pirated material, was wrong. The laptop that belonged to Joe Biden’s son

The New York Post in November 2020 published an article claiming that material found on a laptop that once belonged to President Joe Biden’s son, allegedly contained salacious information about his personal life and business dealings. The laptop was later authenticated by other news outlets, although at the time there were concerns about the authenticity and origin of the information.

When it comes to India, Twitter’s new usage rules regarding freedom of speech could have a significant impact, as Twitter has 2.36 million users in India, making it the 3rd largest base. of Twitter users, after the United States and Japan.

According to a recent official review, the Indian government’s legal requests/orders for content blocking and removals issued to Twitter, represent only 7% of the cumulative legal requests received by the microblogging platform from 2012 to 2021, and are “proportionate to expanding the San Francisco-based company’s user base in the country.

This latest analysis comes even as Twitter and the central government are engaged in a confrontation over the increase in the number of official requests for withdrawals and account blockings. Earlier this month, the social media platform had approached the Karnataka High Court to challenge at least 39 such blocking orders issued by the union’s IT department.

Netizens are passionately speculating about the future of Twitter. For now, Mr. Musk appears to be serious about his intention to promote free speech and minimal regulation of all human thought – social, political and everything in between. While left-wing “activists” in the United States, India and elsewhere cry foul and shed tears over Vijaya Gadde, conservatives and the right in many countries, including the United States and India, seem to hail the new.

The rabid left-wing Dravidian Stockist online news portal The News Minute was quick to speculate with the following headline “Indian right-wing happy as Elon Musk sacks Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde” shows how badly they are bothered that Musk is firing her.

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Joan D. Boling