Yoel Roth is Twitter’s head of site integrity. Roth spearheaded the social media company’s new fact-checking initiative that has been criticized by President Donald Trump. The president has said that he will not allow fact-checking to “stifle” his freedom of speech.
The fact-checking initiative was announced in a blog post on Twitter’s website on May 11. The blog was written by Roth and Twitter’s Director of Public Policy Nick Pickles. According to that post, potentially misleading tweets are characterized in one of three ways: misleading information, disputed claims and unverified claims.
According to his official website, Roth began working at Twitter as an intern in 2014.
Heavy has reached out to Roth for comment on this story.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kellyanne Conway Accused Roth of ‘Constantly Attacking Trump Voters’
In an appearance on Fox & Friends on Fox News on the morning of May 27, Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway mentioned Roth twice by name. Conway also spelled out Roth’s Twitter handle. Conway added, “Somebody in San Francisco go wake him up and tell him he’s about to get more followers.”
Conway went on, “This guy is constantly attacking Trump voters, Trump, Mitch McConnell, you name it.” Conway also said, “It’s horrible the way [Roth] looks at people.”
On his LinkedIn page, Roth’s role at Twitter is described as:
He leads the teams responsible for developing and enforcing Twitter’s rules on platform manipulation, spam, and API access, as well as Twitter’s investigation and attribution efforts related to state-backed information operations.
Roth told students at his alma mater, Swarthmore College, in 2017 that his role at Twitter included working with product managers on new products as well as protecting Twitter’s data information.
2. Roth Mocked Those Who Have Attacked Him Online by Joking That His College Evaluations Were Harsher
In a tweet on May 25, Roth mocked those who have attacked him on social media. Roth tweeted, “Somehow, regularly being told by internet strangers that I’m a soulless corporate shill is still less harsh feedback than I got from anonymous peer reviewers in my past academic life.”
According to Roth’s Twitter profile, he has a Ph.D. from The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, Roth studied political science at Swarthmore College. According to his website, Roth’s dissertation at The Annenberg School was on “Gay Data.” Roth has described his area of study as focusing “on the privacy and self-expression choices of gay men using geosocial networking services like Grindr.”
3. Roth Said That in 2020 Americans Are Facing a ‘Particularly Divisive Political Moment’
In March 2020, Roth was interviewed by National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro. Roth spoke about his role in fighting “election disinformation.” He said, “I think in 2020, we’re facing a particularly divisive political moment here in the United States, and attempts to capitalize on those divisions amongst Americans seem to be where malicious actors are headed.”
Roth said Russian operatives were not solely responsible for the disinformation but that it was the work of a “wide range of malicious actors.” Roth did speak in the interview about the use of Russian troll-farms during the 2016 and 2018 elections in the United States. Roth said that following the 2016 election, Twitter found that multiple accounts belonged to “inauthentic personas.” Roth said, “We’ve seen some indication that that remains part of the Russian playbook.”
4. Roth’s Ph.D. Dealt With the ‘Intersection of Technology & Sexuality’
Roth said in an interview on the University of Pennsylvania website that much of the work he did for his Ph.D. was about the “intersection of technology and sexuality.” Roth said that, “I’m particularly interested in how things like masculinity are constructed both in and through technology.” Roth added, “Most of my interests are in the construction of gay masculinity.” Roth said he was tracking how “notions of masculinity” had changed since the gay rights movement began.
Roth said in the same interview that his original plan when he began studying at The Annenberg School was to study video games. Roth said that after learning about how communications encompassed many of his interests, “video games went out the window.” Roth also said that the “beauty of Annenberg is that nobody here really knows what communications means.”
5. In the Wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, Roth Tweeted: ‘I’m Just Saying, We Fly Over Those States That Voted for a Racist Tangerine for a Reason’
In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Roth tweeted, “I’m just saying, we fly over those states that voted for a racist tangerine for a reason.” Roth also tweeted that he donated $100 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Roth said that the reason for the donation was because, “We can’t f*** around anymore.”
In another message, Roth referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “personality-free bag of farts.”
Roth said in January 2017 that there were “actual Nazis in the White House.”