by Ben Whedon
The latest “Twitter Files” release, on Friday evening, details the social media platform’s relationship with the FBI and outlined communications between the federal agency seeking takedowns of select posts.
The most recent release is from independent journalist Matt Taibbi, one of several individuals to whom new Twitter CEO Elon Musk has granted access to the company’s internal communications in a bid to highlight the prior management’s efforts to stifle posts that didn’t agree with their world view.
“Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary,” Taibbi wrote early in the Tweet thread. “Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.”
Taibbi also wrote: “a surprisingly high number are requests by the FBI for Twitter to take action on election misinformation, even involving joke tweets from low-follower accounts.
Taibbi also posted that he found in the email review that “Federal intelligence and law enforcement reach into Twitter included the Department of Homeland Security, which partnered with security contractors and think tanks to pressure Twitter to moderate content.” Reports emerged earlier this year that executives from multiple Big Tech platforms regularly met with federal agency officials to coordinate efforts to combat “disinformation.”
Included in the thread were screenshots of requests from FBI offices for the platform to censor posts, even from low follower accounts and subsequent images indicating that Twitter had complied with the requests.
https://t.co/bcttGWKpFW unanswered question: do agencies like FBI and DHS do in-house flagging work themselves, or farm it out? “You have to prove to me that inside the fucking government you can do any kind of massive data or AI search,” says one former intelligence officer.
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Taibbi subsequently documented the bureau’s circulation of a list of accounts that “may warrant additional action,” before indicating that Twitter received the list and censored many of the offending accounts and posts.
The thread went on to explain that state governments also worked with the platform to flag content, including request from California officials to act on a Tweet from former President Donald Trump. Taibbi further highlighted other organizations that partnered with the government to conduct mass reviews on online content.
“The takeaway: what most people think of as the “deep state” is really a tangled collaboration of state agencies, private contractors, and (sometimes state-funded) NGOs,” Taibbi concluded. “The lines become so blurred as to be meaningless.”
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Ben Whedon is the night editor for the Just the News. He came to the company from Breitbart News and is a graduate of Washington and Lee University.