Federal, state govs monitor Americans' social posts: TWITTER FILES
"Twitter files" reveal that the FBI and former Twitter Senior Director of Trust & Safety exchanged more than 150 emails.
A new release in The Twitter Files series came out on Friday afternoon, revealing that federal law enforcement officials were working closely with Twitter employees to censor content.
Journalist Matt Taibbi reported that Yoel Roth, then-Twitter Senior Director of Trust & Safety, exchanged more than 150 emails with the FBI between January 2020 and November 2022.
“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 said.
“The FBI’s social media-focused task force, known as FTIF, created in the wake of the 2016 election, swelled to 80 agents and corresponded with Twitter to identify alleged foreign influence and election tampering of all kinds.”
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“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,” he continued.
According to the most recent documents discovered during the investigation, the FBI and DHS were "regularly sending social media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation."
Taibbi showed examples of the FBI reaching out to get action taken on specific tweets:
“HELLO TWITTER CONTACTS”: The master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter comes through in this November 2022 email, in which “FBI San Francisco is notifying you” it wants action on four accounts: pic.twitter.com/LjgB6fxENo— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Stacia Cardille, then-director and associate general counsel for Twitter's global policy legal team, emailed then-Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker, saying she was meeting with the FBI, DOJ, DHS, and ODNI about election threats on a regular basis.
Other internal company emails revealed employees reviewing a list of tweets flagged by the FBI as having "possible violative content":
28. About one, she writes: “Flagged a specific Tweet on Illinois use of modems to transmit election results in possible violation of the civic integrity policy (except they do use that tech in limited circumstances).”— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
The FBI also shared DHS bulletins about threats to US elections with Twitter.
31. In this March, 2021 email, an FBI liaison thanks a senior Twitter exec for the chance to speak to “you and the team,” then delivers a packet of “products”: pic.twitter.com/POOpYrd9q8— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
“The ubiquity of the 2016 Russian interference story as stated pretext for building out the censorship machine can’t be overstated,” Taibbi wrote. “It’s analogous to how 9/11 inspired the expansion of the security state.”
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The volume of tweets flagged by the FBI, according to Taibbi, was so large that Twitter employees congratulated each other in internal company communications for the "monumental undertaking" of reviewing them.
Taibbi also revealed that the government has multiple channels through which it can submit content-related information to Twitter.
35.FBI in one case sent over so many “possible violative content” reports, Twitter personnel congratulated each other in Slack for the “monumental undertaking” of reviewing them: pic.twitter.com/rt5WzhfCga— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
The state of California also inquired as to why the company did not respond to a tweet from then-President Donald Trump.
39.Twitter for instance received reports via the Partner Support Portal, an outlet created by the Center for Internet Security, a partner organization to the DHS.— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
"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 said, adding that "the lines become so blurred as to be meaningless."
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