Who is Vijaya Gadde, the Twitter executive facing online hatred after the Elon Musk takeover? – Technology News, Firstpost
FP explainersApr 28, 2022 5:40:25 PM IST
Before Elon Musk took over Twitter, he said he “didn’t trust” [the company’s] management. He made his displeasure clear when he went after Vijaya Gadde, the company’s head of legal affairs, policy, and trust and security issues.
In response to a tweet from a prominent podcast host who shared an article on Gadde titled “Twitter’s Top Lawyer Insures Staff, Cries During Meeting Over Musk Acquisition,” the billionaire cited the suspension of a major news organization’s Twitter account.” incredibly inappropriate”. He referred to the company’s decision to suspend the New York Post over a controversial report about US President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
— Saagar Enjeti (@esagar) Apr 26, 2022
After responding to Saagar Enjeti, the co-host of the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar podcast, Musk posted a meme featuring a photo of Gadde and infamous podcaster Joe Rogan, in which he accused Twitter of left-wing bias.
Who is Gadde? And why is Musk going after her?
The woman who banned Trump from Twitter
Enjeti described the Indian-American Twitter manager as the “top defender of censorship” at the social media company. She leads the team that moderates the content on the platform and is responsible for the company’s security policy.
An article in The Times of India says Gadde is “the most powerful media executive you’ve ever heard of”.
The 48-year-old is responsible for some of the company’s big decisions, including the suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account after the US Capitol riots. She has been instrumental in knocking out conservative voices on the platform.
“@realDonaldTrump’s account has been permanently suspended from Twitter due to the risk of further violence,” she tweeted on Jan. 9, 2021.
The decision to ban political ads on Twitter ahead of the 2020 US presidential election was also taken by the team led by Gadde.
Shortly after the war in Ukraine began, Twitter began tagging tweets shared by Russian state media and took steps to reduce the spread of propaganda on the platform.
We are expanding our labeling of state-affiliated media accounts to now label state media links shared on Twitter. This builds on our work over the past few years to label, not amplify, state media on Twitter. https://t.co/oWuf2VyXVj
— Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) February 28, 2022
As Enjeti noted in his tweet, the attorney censored the controversial Hunter Biden story published in The New York Post. The article alleged that Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, had improper connections with a director of a Ukrainian energy company. Twitter later reversed the move, but not before it was accused of censoring information that could have harmed a Democratic candidate, according to a Bloomberg report.
Bloomberg called Gadde the “final word” on blocking tweets and accounts on the platform.
When former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey visited India in November 2018, he set off a storm as he held a poster that read “destroy the Brahmin patriarchy”. When his photo went viral on Twitter, some right-wing activists blamed Gadde for Dorsey’s decision. She then apologized for the incident and said it did not reflect Twitter’s position.
The charge of ‘left-wing bias’
Gadde and Twitter have been accused of leaning to the left. It’s what Musk repeated in his tweet attacking the lawyer. “In order for Twitter to earn the public’s trust, it must be politically neutral, which basically means that the far right and far left get equally upset,” he wrote.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2022
When Musk goes after someone, his army of loyal and often rabid supporters – called Musketeers – follows. Gadde became a target of online hatred with some trolls harassing her for her Indian roots, throwing racist utterances such as curry and making references to the country’s caste system.
Others used expletives or derogatory language, blaming her for “destroying countless @Twitter accounts for telling the truth”. Some called for her to be fired or suggested she leave alone. Some of the abusive tweets were later removed for violating Twitter rules, Bloomberg reports. Some racist comments were directed at Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who is also of Indian descent.
Musk is a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist and bigot of Twitter’s censorship policies. “By ‘freedom of speech’ I just mean what conforms to the law,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday. “I am against censorship that goes way beyond the law.”
Musk’s criticism of Gadde did not go down well with some current Twitter executives, including the CEO. While Agrawal didn’t go out of his way to beat Musk, he spoke subtly in favor of his legal head. “I took this job to change Twitter for the better, of course correct where necessary, and strengthen the service. Proud of our people who continue to do the work with focus and urgency despite the noise,” he wrote.
Former CEO Ev Williams also stood up for Gadde. “Just to say, there are many defensible, nuanced_ perspectives on content moderation and also @vijaya is one of the most thoughtful, principled people I know,” he tweeted.
Just to say, there are many defensible, nuanced perspectives on content moderation and, also, @vijaya is one of the most thoughtful, principled people I know.
— Eve (@ev) April 27, 2022
Dorsey, who was said to be close to Gadde, has remained silent, however.
End of Gadde’s Twitter stint?
Born in Hyderabad, Gadde came to the US at the age of three and grew up in Texas. She studied at Cornell University and the New York University School of Law.
Prior to joining the California-based social media company, Gadde was Senior Director of Legal at American multinational corporation Juniper Networks. Before that, she spent nearly ten years at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a California law firm. Now she also serves on the boards of Guardant Health, a company dedicated to beating cancer, Planet, a leader in the Earth observation industry, and Mercy Corps, a humanitarian aid organization.
Gadde joined Twitter in 2011 and has made some tough but important decisions to preserve the sanctity of the company. But now sources say she, like Agrawal, may be on her way once Musk’s takeover is complete.
With input from Twitter