Anika Navaroli, a former Twitter employee, kept her identity secret while testifying to the January 6 committee about the explosion of online threats over the 2020 election. Until now.
Meet The January 6 Committee's Twitter Witness
Anika NavaroliCredit: Getty Images
September 23, 2022

This summer, her recorded voice was modulated so her identity could be hidden when her testimony before the Jan. 6 committee—about the massive red flags she saw waving on Twitter on the eve of the insurrection—finally went public.

On Friday, select committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, revealed who “she” is: former Twitter employee Anika Navaroli.

Navaroli came forward to offer the committee her intimate insights into the disturbing messages and trends she saw on Twitter that echoed both former President Donald Trump’s calls to overturn the election on Jan. 6 as well the calls for violence and retribution flowing from extremist groups and other ugly corners of the internet.

During a public hearing this July, the nation heard Navaroli’s testimony for the first time. Her voice was modified but the intensity of her convictions about what she witnessed shone through. 

“For months, I had been begging and anticipating and attempting to raise the reality that if nothing, [if there] was no intervention into what I saw occurring, people were going to die,” she said. “And on Jan. 5, I realized no intervention was coming. Even as hard as I had tried to create one or implement one, there was nothing. We were at the whims and mercy of a violent crowd that was locked and loaded.”

An investigator asked her to clarify her testimony: “And for that record, that content was echoing the president, Proud Boys, and other known violent extremist groups?” 

Her answer was succinct.

“Yes,” she said.

According to a webpage on the independent non-profit research outfit Data & Society, Navaroli is an alumnus of that organization and her research there specialized in “laws governing technology and First Amendment jurisprudence.”

She also researched how “traditional constitutional principles” apply to the ever-expanding ecosystem of civil rights protests online. She holds multiple degrees, including a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a juris doctor degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. 

Requests for comment from Navaroli as well as the select committee were not immediately returned Thursday. 

Before Jan. 6, social media platforms were awash in chatter about then-outgoing President Donald Trump’s “wild” rally in Washington. Right-wing and pro-Trump YouTube influencers and commentators like Alex Jones were brimming over with excitement. 

One pro-Trump YouTuber going by the name “Salty Cracker” told his audience Jan. 6 would feature a “million-plus geeked up, armed Americans.”

It was going to be a “red wedding,” he said, making a reference to the fictional bloody massacre portrayed in the fantasy television show, Game of Thrones. 

On Reddit, Facebook, and sites like 4kun and 8chan, the same language proliferated. 

And on Twitter, where QAnon conspiracy theorists and far-right activists like Jack Posobiec, among many others, shared Trump’s defunct gospel about widespread election fraud at a rapid clip, the momentum toward the Capitol attack was building. 

It had been building for weeks.

On Dec. 19, 2020, when Trump tweeted “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild,” it was like catnip to domestic extremists and far-right militia groups hanging on his every word.

In a separate portion of her disguised sworn testimony that aired this summer, Navaroli said she felt Twitter went easy on Trump because he gave the social media platform greater cachet.

Navaroli testified that Twitter weighed implementing a more strict content moderation policy in September 2020, right after the presidential debates.

During the debate between Trump and now-President Joe Biden, Trump would not disavow or condemn extremists or white supremacists. 

When asked if he would say whether the groups should stand down, Trump responded by telling Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Reflecting on that moment under oath, Navaroli told the select committee: “My concern was that the former president, for seemingly the first time, was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives. We had not seen that sort of direct communication before, and that concerned me.”

If Trump had been “any other user,” she said, “he would have been permanently suspended a very long time ago.”

Twitter did not boot Trump from the platform permanently until a day after the insurrection. 

When Raskin recounted Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet, he said the messaging online by his followers and hangers-on became “openly homicidal.”

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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