Elon Musk’s firing of Vijaya Gadde — even more than of the other Twitter executives he booted upon taking over the company Thursday — was widely seen as a blow to the reigning regime of information regulation.
American democracy just got a lot weaker or a lot stronger, depending on whom you ask.
News that Musk’s drawn-out bid to acquire Twitter was finally complete sparked an uproar, with much of it focused on the ousting of Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal policy, trust and safety.
ON THE RIGHT: Conservatives, many of whom view Musk as an ally for his outspoken championing of free speech, celebrated the departure of the Twitter employee most closely associated with high-profile crackdowns on conservative accounts.
How it started How it’s going pic.twitter.com/7cAnRKqPT1
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) October 28, 2022
ON THE LEFT: Liberal critics, meanwhile, saw the ouster of Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal policy, trust and safety, as proof that Musk plans to unleash a flood of dangerous “hate speech” and mis- and disinformation on the platform.
— Mike Masnick (@mmasnick) October 28, 2022
WHY VIJAYA GADDE IS SO POLARIZING
One of Gadde’s roles at Twitter was to lead the team in charge of policing “hate speech,” abuse and harassment, protecting elections from foreign interference and promoting healthy discourse.
- Her involvement in the decision to permanently suspend former President Donald Trump’s account last year, along with other measures ostensibly carried out in the name of user safety, led critics to brand her Twitter’s “chief censor.”
JANUARY 2019: Gadde was involved in the decision to suspend the accounts of individuals who tweeted “learn to code” at journalists. The company claimed the tweets violated Twitter’s rules against “targeted harassment” campaigns.
MARCH 2019: Gadde appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast” alongside Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO at the time, and justified the company’s content moderation policies by saying they were needed to “protect people.”
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) October 28, 2022
OCTOBER 2020: Gadde outraged conservatives when she made the call to block a damaging New York Post report about then-candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on the grounds that the story violated Twitter’s policy on hacked materials.
CRYING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK
Reports of Gadde’s firing prompted critics to jubilantly resurface a Politico report from April claiming she cried at a virtual meeting shortly after Musk’s takeover of the company was announced.
- But Twitter’s former top lawyer is likely to land on her feet: Gadde was reportedly earning $17 million a year at the company.
- According to an SEC filing outlining the details of Musk’s acquisition, Gadde’s ousting should net her a $40 million buyout.