A Tuesday evening “Twitter Files” drop revealed the censorship-obsessed Big Tech platform caved to pressure from Democrats and created a task force to investigate Russian “interference” in the 2016 election.
The document drop is the latest installment of internal “Twitter Files” company owner Elon Musk promised to promote transparency on the platform after years of one-sided censorship. Matt Taibbi, who has reported several file drops, revealed damning evidence of an “astonishing variety of requests from officials asking for individuals they didn’t like to be banned.”
In one glaring case, the office of California Representative and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D) reportedly asked Twitter to ban journalist Paul Sperry.
Twitter denied the request, but Taibbi said “almost everyone else’s requests” were granted. The platform apparently received requests from state government agencies in addition to officials from agencies within the federal government. Sperry was later suspended by Twitter anyway.
27.They also received an astonishing variety of requests from officials asking for individuals they didn’t like to be banned. Here, the office for Democrat and House Intel Committee chief Adam Schiff asks Twitter to ban journalist Paul Sperry: pic.twitter.com/SXI1ekqi13— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023
Musk responded to the revelations about Schiff's office pressuring Twitter: "Hey @RepAdamSchiff, what’s this?"
Hey @RepAdamSchiff, what’s this?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 3, 2023
In addition, Taibbi wrote in his thread that Twitter faced a “PR crisis” in 2017 after Democrats accused the platform of failing to take action against alleged election interference from Russia in 2016. Although Twitter suspended several accounts it believed could be linked to Russia, its efforts apparently fell short of expectations from government entities.
In response, the company created a “Russia Task Force” to investigate whether the country used the platform to interfere in the election. The so-called “task force” identified fifteen “high risk” accounts, three of which had “connections with Russia.” Of the three accounts with Russian “connections,” two of them were affiliated with RT, Russia’s state controlled media.
"First round of RU investigation… 15 high risk accounts, 3 of which have connections with Russia, although 2 are RT," an internal memo from October 2017 read.
Another memo detailed the pitiful results of the investigation: "Finished with investigation…2500 full manual account reviews, we think this is exhaustive…32 suspicious accounts and only 17 of those are connected with Russia, only 2 of those have significant spend one of which is Russia Today...remaining <$10k in spend."
Taibbi added that proposed congressional action aimed at increasing government regulation of “Big Tech” social media platforms furthered Twitter’s “PR crisis.”
"This cycle – threatened legislation, wedded to scare headlines pushed by congressional/intel sources, followed by Twitter caving to moderation asks – would later be formalized in partnerships with federal law enforcement," he wrote.
Tuesday evening’s file drop is more evidence of coordinated government efforts to censor certain speech online.
In December, MRC Free Speech America reported Taibbi’s revelation that government agencies worked to pressure Twitter on COVID-19 and the Hunter Biden laptop story.
“The files show the FBI acting as the doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government - from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA,” Taibbi wrote at the time.
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