Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was on a private island in the Pacific when he found out President Trump had been suspended from his platform. Conveying the news, on Jan. 6, was Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s top lawyer and head of policy. In a phone call, first reported by the New York Times, Gadde told Dorsey that the decision had been taken to reduce the risk of further violence after the attack on the Capitol earlier that day. Within two days, Gadde and a team of other employees had persuaded a hesitant Dorsey to ban Trump permanently.
Gadde, 46, is one of Twitter’s most powerful executives. Her boss, Dorsey, has delegated to her Twitter’s content-moderation decisions; she was the architect of the 2019 decision to ban all political advertising, and is responsible for the warning labels that Twitter applied to COVID-19 and election-interference misinformation in 2020. While Twitter is still home to much misinformation and harassment, Gadde’s influence is slowly turning the company into one that sees free speech not as sacrosanct—but as just one human right among many that need to be weighed against one another. —Billy Perrigo