The latest Twitter Files installments implicated a new culprit in the assault against Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s free speech and provided evidence that government requests to censor were more like orders.
The most recent Twitter Files by Andrew Lowenthal, author of the Network Affects Substack, referred to a House hearing last Thursday at which Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. provided testimony. Lowenthal noted that The Twitter Files corroborated Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH)’s accusations of Government-Big Tech collusion to censor Kennedy, adding that not only did the White House ask Twitter to muzzle Kennedy but Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) apparently did the same.
During the hearing before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Jordan pointed out that the Biden administration emailed Twitter sternly asking the platform to silence Kennedy’s views on COVID-19 vaccines two days after the president took office. “Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on the process for having it removed ASAP,” an email from White House Digital Director for the COVID-19 Response Team Clarke Humphrey to Twitter reads according to screenshots Lowenthal included.
What did Kennedy say that was so objectionable? He noted his opinion of how professional baseball player Hank Aaron died. “Hank Aaron’s tragic death is part of a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following the vaccine. He received the vaccine on January 5 to inspire other black Americans to get the vaccine,” Kennedy wrote, according to Jordan’s readout at the hearing.
Screenshots indicate that five minutes after the White House sent a request, Twitter received another email “sent via a law firm, from Hawaii's Democratic Senator Brian Schatz. Neither Schatz's office nor the law firm has commented,” Lowenthal wrote.
Taibbi referred to the debated question of whether the federal government merely suggested content to be removed or whether the requests were more like orders. He noted an email chain from FBI agents asking Twitter to suspend three accounts “believed to be associated with foreign influence actors” and “potentially being used to display information that violates Twitter’s terms of service.” Taibbi described the disturbing interaction: “Senior FBI man in Washington pings SF [San Francisco] field office about three accounts. SF agent pings Twitter. Twitter suspends accounts. From DC whim to Bay Area suspension, the whole transaction takes a day.”
But the interaction did not end there. “But, you say, it’s not an order, just the FBI passing along helpful info. Or is it?,” Taibbi wrote. “In this case Twitter had a ‘tooling’ error and the ordered suspension never took place. Upset, the senior FBI man sent a WTF letter two weeks later.”
It appears that the initial person who flagged the accounts sent a follow-up letter to the San Francisco field office which read: “As of June 23, 2020, the content associated with Twitter account @thePOTUSBox appeared to still be accessible. Since the account was originally referred to Twitter on June 11th … I wanted to follow up to see if this account was truly suspended.” Twitter apologized for not censoring the account and pointed to the bug, according to screenshots.
To make matters worse, Twitter followed orders even when the FBI’s claims seemed untrue. “While the accounts showed some signs of inauthenticity, they weren’t so clear cut on our end that they’d trigger a proactive referral of associated accounts or content to the Bureau. We don’t at this time have a clear indication that they are foreign in origin,” Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth wrote in an email.
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