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Elon Musk’s noble crusade to restore free speech to the global public square has so far been everything patriots dared hope for: a declaration of war against our corrupt regime and the censorship required to sustain it. So far Elon has met and exceeded our expectations, having restored President Trump, announced a “general amnesty for banned accounts,” and done away with the site’s old Orwellian Covid “misinformation” policy.
We predicted in a now-classic piece (which Elon read) that the Regime would respond ruthlessly to such a provocation. Real free speech is simply too dangerous to be allowed, and any effort to restore it, we said, would be met with an all-out media, bureaucratic, legal, and economic assault.
And now, it looks like the regime is trying to leverage one of its greatest weapons to nip Elon’s Twitter in the bud: the world’s largest company, Apple.
What’s going on here @tim_cook?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
For the time being, at least, this effort may have failed. On Wednesday afternoon, Musk tweeted about a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook, and indicated there was no danger of Twitter being purged for the time being. That’s great news. But Musk, and all supporters of free speech, should remain deeply wary of Apple, both due to its immense power and because of many years of evidence of a political agenda burrowed deep into the company.
It is one thing for Apple to curtail advertising with Twitter. Several companies have done that, under the pretext of “brand safety” — a mafia shakedown technique which will be the subject of a future Revolver report. It would be quite another matter for Apple to cripple Twitter’s distribution by banning them from Apple’s App Store.
For all but a tiny minority of tech-savvy consumers, the App Store is the only way to add new software to an iPhone. And iPhones make up more than 50 percent of all smartphone sales in the U.S., meaning that with the push of a button, Apple could block half the country from downloading and using Twitter’s app. Since over 85 percent of all Twitter use is on mobile devices, an app store ban for Twitter would essentially be a killshot for the entire platform — just like it was for Parler, which has never recovered from the merely temporary store ban it received after January 6.
For now, it looks like Apple doesn’t intend to boot out Twitter. But it is clear is that many people badly want them to do it. In an essay for The New York Times, Twitter’s own former head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth unsubtly suggested that Google and Apple should bring Musk to heel by weaponizing their app stores. In his capacity as head of Global Head of Trust and Safety, Yoel Roth was central to the decision to suppress coverage Hunter Biden’s laptop in the weeks leading up to the 2020 Presidential election, among many other things. This is quite literally “election meddling.” To his credit, Musk has bravely announced his intention to release Twitter’s internal communications that led up to this history-altering act of political censorship.
If Roth gets his way, and an app store purge eventually happens, it will likely be carried out by the “Trust and Safety” goon squads of other companies. The Orwellian label belies what the “Trust and Safety” role actually entails. The Trust and Safety head at any tech company is essentially that company’s chief censor who decides which statements are acceptable, which get labeled “harassment,” and which ideas get targeted by Artificial Intelligence for automatic deletion.
Roth’s troublesome tenure as head of Twitter raises the obvious question of who his “Trust and Safety” equivalent would be at Apple. Who would play the key role in deciding how and whether to take Twitter off the App Store? Yoel Roth established his bona fides to be chief censor at Twitter with a groundbreaking dissertation on the gay-sex dating app Grindr — so what qualifications set one up to head Trust and Safety at the $2 trillion titan?
The current head of Apple Trust and Safety is someone who is clearly aware of the value of having a low profile online. Look for details on Jessica Gimarc-Savini and you’ll find her sparse LinkedIn page, her (lesbian) wedding page, and not much else.
While we know little about Jessica Savini, we can learn much from a profile of her predecessor, former head of Trust and Safety at Apple Margaret Richardson.
Richardson served as Apple’s top trust and safety figure from August 2020 through May 2022.
As you read the following, keep in mind that Apple is the largest company in the world, with a market capitalization of $2.3 trillion dollars. Its annual revenues exceed the GDP of most U.S. states. It’s annual net profits are worth more than the GDP of Bulgaria. Apple might as well be a country unto itself, and a powerful one at that. Of all of the people they could have chosen to be the key decision maker for content moderation and safety — that is, censorship — you’d think they’d at least choose someone with the appearance of moderation and lack of political bias.
While Richardson wisely avoided tweeting during her tenure at Apple, at her previous job, first as “director of global policy” and then “director of trust” as Airbnb, Richardson was entirely unrestrained. Her still-extant tweets from August 2020 and before give a stark demonstration of her thinking, a perpetually-spinning hamster wheel of stock left-wing political tropes. For starters, Richardson’s Twitter banner screams “Black Lives Matter”!
But that’s only scratching the surface.
Dig back through 5+ years of tweets and retweets, and you see a type that is disturbingly common: A person’s whose public life consists almost wholly of mindlessly affirming, then reaffirming, and then re-reaffirming, far-left and liberal partisan orthodoxies.
Another illuminating piece from Matt Miller: Trump has crossed a once-unthinkable red line – The Washington Post https://t.co/ENkTOH0OPJ
— Margaret Richardson (@margaretlr) May 11, 2017
It’s not that any one tweet from Richardson is particularly bad. It’s that that’s all there is. She never strays into talking about her family or her favorite books or even, say, her favorite vacation spots (she was working at a lodging company, after all!). It’s just the current partisan lib obsession du jour, every time, with ruthless tedium.
Richardson isn’t just deeply ideological, pro-BLM, and so forth. She’s also narrowly and almost pettily partisan.
If this was your barista at Starbucks, or a Congressional staffer, or heck, an ordinary Apple engineer, this would be rather lame but unremarkable. But this is the person Apple chose to lead its Trust and Safety division, the person chosen to be head censor at the most powerful company in the world. This is the person who was empowered to make crucial, politically-loaded decisions during one of the most hotly-contested elections in American history.
Five months after Richardson started at Apple, the company made one of the most ideologically aggressive cancellations ever when it banned Parler from its app store. While Apple works hard to obscure its decision-making process, Richardson was without a doubt central to that decision, and with her involved, it wasn’t a surprising one. In April 2022, shortly before she left, the company also committed itself to a ridiculous internal “racial equity audit.”
So, where did this person come from? Well, just looking at her tweets, one notices that Richardson doesn’t just have a habit of boosting left-wing causes. She has a noticeable preference for boosting senior figures from the Obama Administration itself — Valerie Jarrett, Arne Duncan, John Kerry, and so forth. Richardson was particularly active when President Trump dismissed acting attorney general Sally Yates for insubordination after she refused to enforce his executive order implementing a travel ban on several nations linked to Islamic terrorism.
This isn’t random.
After earning dual degrees in law from UC-Berkeley and in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School, Richardson spent three years working at a free legal clinic in the Bay Area. From there, she went to the Obama campaign, and after his election she joined the Justice Department as a top adviser to Eric Holder, eventually ascending to become his chief of staff.
Revolver suspects that for many of our readers, Eric Holder’s DOJ feels like it was a century ago. So, a quick reminder: Holder wasn’t just an Obama Cabinet member. Holder was one of the most aggressive ideological attack dogs of the whole Obama era.
Holder crushed Arizona’s SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law, claiming it infringed on the sole right of the federal government to enforce (or totally ignore) immigration law. Holder dropped charges against the New Black Panthers who stood outside a Philadelphia polling place and menaced “white devils” with a billy club, since after all it only involved gross white kulaks facing threats and violent intimidation, rather than a member of America’s noble caste. Holder’s DOJ launched Operation Choke Point, which tried to curtail gun rights by pressuring American banks to deny service to gun dealers, on the flimsy pretext that such dealers had a higher risk of fraudulent behavior. Most disastrous of all, Holder’s DOJ harassed American police departments for their supposedly “racist” policing efforts, pressuring them into consent decrees that paved the way for the urban homicide explosion of the “racial reckoning” era.
All of Holder’s misbehavior climaxed with his oversight of Operation Fast and Furious, in which DOJ intentionally allowed more than 2,000 guns to be illegally smuggled to Mexico, one of which was later used in the murder of a Border Patrol agent. While he was deliberately sending guns to criminals in Mexico, Holder simultaneously insisted America needed stricter gun laws to stop crime. The scandal culminated in Holder becoming the first sitting Cabinet member in history to be found in contempt of Congress — the same offense that Steve Bannon faces prison time for. Of course, since Holder himself ran the Justice Department, he never faced any criminal charges for his behavior.
WHY was Democrat Eric Holder never held accountable?? pic.twitter.com/cCawjtfp0V
— NinaB☀️ is @NinaFL on Truth Social~ (@SurvivedCovid) October 12, 2022
While Holder was handing guns to criminals and enabling political terror against white voters, Richardson was right there beside him as one of his closest aides.
Richardson was so close to Holder, in fact, that when Holder left his post in 2015 and went back to Covington and Burling, D.C.’s #1 law firm, Richardson tagged right along, working at the firm for a year. Then, one month after Holder went to Airbnb as an “adviser” to create “anti-discrimination policy” at the company, Richardson lateraled to the company as well to become their “director of global policy.”
For roughly a decade then, this woman was joined at the hip to one of the most unscrupulous ideological hatchetmen of the Obama years. Then, she came into her own at Airbnb, which under her oversight became a corporate leader in the calculated targeting of political enemies. While many companies went on a banning spree after the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Richardson’s Airbnb made its bans before the rally, disabling the accounts of anyone it suspected was planning to attend the (legal and permitted) rally. In 2019, the company banned anybody trying to attend an American Renaissance conference in Tennessee, even if they had otherwise done nothing to violate Airbnb rules:
Airbnb has banned some people planning to attend an upcoming white nationalist conference at a Tennessee state park from using its online booking platform.
The popular vacation rental company confirmed its decision Monday to ban users tied to the annual American Renaissance Conference at the Montgomery Bell State Park Inn & Conference Center.
American Renaissance is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The magazine-turned-blog “openly peddles white nationalism,” according to the nonprofit legal advocacy organization.
“Actions based in racism and hatred associated with neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and white supremacists have no place in the Airbnb community. When we see people on the platform pursuing behavior that would be antithetical to our Community Commitment, we take appropriate action,” Airbnb wrote in a statement.
While Richardson dabbled in this, she also sat on the safety board of Uber, which adopted its own practices of banning users for crimethink.
Is it any surprise that when Richardson went from Airbnb to Apple, her “destroy the enemy” attitude went with her?
Today, Richardson plies her trade as chief corporate affairs officer at GoFundMe, another firm notorious for boosting cancel culture. Most recently, she has bragged about the company doing a special cash giveaway for black-owned businesses.
But Revolver isn’t here to just beat up on Richardson personally. What matters is what she symbolizes. For two years, the person who defined “safety” at the most valuable company in the world was the veteran underling of one of the most woke Cabinet officials in history. Richardson represents the perfect inverse of the traditional “revolving door” in Washington. Usually, the “revolving door” metaphor is used to describe private sector actors who go into government, enact policies favoring a certain business or industry, then return to the private sector to reap the rewards of their government conduct. Richardson is something more advanced: a highly ideological government actor who used the private sector as a way to conduct politics by other means.
The very arc of Richardson’s career demonstrates what a joke the concept of “Trust and Safety” is. Richardson is just a single high-profile representative of a much larger project in the world of business; the project to use “safety” (either physical or reputational) as a weapon to increase censorship and enforce ideological conformity.
Elon Musk was well-justified in being suspicious of Apple’s app store operation. He’s even more justified in toppling his own “Trust and Safety” chief. If he wants to take an even more powerful third step, here’s our suggestion: abolish the “Trust and Safety” department entirely. Twitter can block spam and report criminal activity without needing a dedicated censorship bureaucracy, just like countless companies did for years before the woke moment arrived. The world has endured enough from its Margaret Richardsons.
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