FBI created dashboard to mislabel Twitter users as Russian bots
The controversial dashboard named 'Hamilton 68' was run by former FBI counter-intel official Clint Watts and was funded by the think tank Alliance for Securing Democracy.
The most recent updates on the Twitter Files reveal on Friday that the FBI set up a dashboard called 'Hamilton 68' to falsely accuse "a bunch of legitimate right-leaning accounts of being Russian bots," former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth said in an email shared by Matt Taibbi, a journalist who exposed the corrupt ties between the FBI and the social media platform.
"I think we need to just call this out on the bullshit it is," the email read, adding that Twitter should adopt the proper measures to address this "nonsense."
Hamilton 68 is a computerized dashboard designed to be used by journalists and academics to measure and track Russian disinformation. It was revealed that the program was used to target legitimate Conservative profiles on the platform and accuse them of having links with Russia.
Twitter conducted a forensic analysis of the Hamilton 68 list. On page 2 you can see a breakdown of “visibility filtering” labels (e.g. “trends blacklist”) that ratifies reporting by @BariWeiss about Twitter shadowbanning techniques. More https://t.co/vxnKAoI9T7 pic.twitter.com/q5vBZdKqVZ— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 27, 2023
According to Taibbi, the controversial dashboard was run by former FBI counter-intel official Clint Watts and was funded by the think tank Alliance for Securing Democracy.
The group’s advisory council included former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, writer Bill Kristol and ex-Hillary Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.
Taibbi said that Watts and Hamilton 68 have been cited for years by news outlets to support claims that Russia interfered in the democratic process.
1.THREAD: Twitter Files #15— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 27, 2023
MOVE OVER, JAYSON BLAIR: TWITTER FILES EXPOSE NEXT GREAT MEDIA FRAUD pic.twitter.com/bLRpDpuWql
Taibbi added that the group claims to have tracked 600 Twitter covert accounts affiliated to Russian influence but it never divulged the list.
Read more: Twitter Files sequel: Pfizer pressed Twitter to hide anti-vax posts
In a 2018 email, Roth said that an earlier analysis that reverse-engineered the list indicated that the accounts were "neither strongly Russian nor strongly bots."
Following this find, Roth suggested the ultimatum for the group to release the list, or Twitter would do it instead.
But Twitter reportedly refused to release the list because of concerns this would upset the Alliance for Securing Democracy, Taibbi said.
After the Twitter Files were released, which contained the list, users found that Hamilton 68 was identifying them to be Russian bots, Taibbi added.
What are the Twitter Files?
Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, is the mastermind behind the so-called Twitter Files. He has stated that he wants to demonstrate "what really happened" about behind-the-scenes content moderation choices at the social media business before he acquired it in October.
Three journalists, Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Michael Shellenberger, have been delving into internal documents and conversations to highlight the company's decision-making process surrounding some high-profile actions, such as banning former President Donald Trump in January 2020. The Twitter Files have been released in bits and pieces throughout December into January.
Read more: Too frequent-too big? Ad-free Twitter comes with costlier subscription