In early August 2020, Snopes readers inquired about social media posts and articles that stated Twitter had hired the press secretary for U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, to moderate tweets posted by U.S. President Donald Trump. Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, tapped Harris as his vice-presidential running mate in August 2020.
The media pile-on was initiated on Aug. 5, 2020, after Twitter’s Nick Pacilio stated in a tweet that a post from Trump’s reelection campaign account, retweeted by Trump, had been removed for violating the platform’s rules against spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic:
Twitter hired Kamala Harris’s press secretary to decide what the President of the United States is allowed to say on Twitter. https://t.co/mU4uHWAcfT
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) August 6, 2020
But the tweet above, posted by the co-founder of The Federalist website, is misleading.
First, Pacilio isn’t currently Harris’ press secretary — he served in that role from 2011 to 2014, while Harris was the attorney general of California. Second, he doesn’t enforce Twitter rules in his role at the company.
Although the tweet above, and other content like it, insinuated that Pacilio was hired recently (late summer of 2020) by Twitter, Pacilio’s employment there actually started in 2014. Furthermore, in Pacilio’s position with Twitter’s communications department, he has no role in platform rules.
That latter point was made pointedly in a tweet by Brandon Borrman, Twitter’s head of communications:
Ari, he's a spokesperson. The article is 100% incorrect. He has nothing to do with enforcement. You're RTing completely fabricated information. https://t.co/6Rpjurxhvy
— Brandon (@bborrman) August 12, 2020