Didn’t they have anything better to do?! Latest Twitter Files show how FBI inundated social media network with so many requests to tackle obscure accounts posting ‘misinformation’ that staffers had to triage Bureau’s emails
- The Twitter Files claim the FBI inundated the social media network with requests
- Emails also show extreme lengths taken to ‘validate theories of foreign influence’
- Twitter CEO Elon Musk promised to release internal dialogue’s and started Dec 2
- The FBI accused journalists working to release the files as ‘conspiracy theorists’
- READ MORE: Twittergate explained – the key revelations so far
In the latest instalment of the Twitter Files the FBI appear to have inundated the social media network with so many requests to tackle obscure accounts posting ‘misinformation’ that staffers had to triage the bureau’s emails.
In some emails revealed by Substack writer Matt Taibbi, there are also cases in which executives have gone to extreme lengths to ‘validate theories of foreign influence’ to justify the requests.
The Twitter Files began on December 2 after CEO Elon Musk promised to release the company’s internal dialogue regarding the suppression of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story.
Musk released unvetted documents to Taibbi as well as fellow journalists, Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger.
Taibbi posted the latest stream of emails on Christmas eve – revealing the FBI inundated the social media network with requests and went to extreme lengths taken to ‘validate theories of foreign influence’
Taibbi posted the latest stream of emails on Christmas Eve starting with a Bureau-issued statement from Wednesday – which doesn’t refute allegations but instead criticized the files release.
‘The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public… It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency,’ the statement read.
Taibbi took a swipe at the agency noting that they must think those who helped release the files as ‘unambitious’ if their ‘sole aim’ is to discredit the FBI.
‘After all, a whole range of government agencies discredit themselves in the #TwitterFiles. Why stop with one?’ he said.
The Substack writer went on to say that the FBI had been acting as ‘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,’ he wrote.
‘The operation is far bigger than the reported 80 members of the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), which also facilitates requests from a wide array of smaller actors – from local cops to media to state governments.
Taibbi reveals regular Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) meetings with executives, FBI personnel and at least two OGA or ‘Other Government Agency’ a term Taibbi said was regularly used to describe retired CIA
‘Twitter had so much contact with so many agencies that executives lost track. Is today the DOD, and tomorrow the FBI? Is it the weekly call, or the monthly meeting? It was dizzying.
‘A chief end result was that thousands of official ‘reports’ flowed to Twitter from all over, through the FITF and the FBI’s San Francisco field office.’
FBI agent Elvis Chan was seen in the latest Twitter file leak to send numerous emails with excel spreadsheets detailing tweets that violate the platforms terms of service
Taibbi reveals regular Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) meetings with executives, FBI personnel and at least two OGA or ‘Other Government Agency’ a term Taibbi said was regularly used to describe retired CIA.
‘The government was in constant contact not just with Twitter but with virtually every major tech firm,’ he wrote.
‘The FITF meeting agendas virtually always included, at or near the beginning, an ‘OGA briefing,’ usually about foreign matters.
‘Despite its official remit being ‘Foreign Influence,’ the FITF and the SF FBI office became conduit for mountains of domestic moderation requests, from state governments, even local police.’
In an email from San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan on Nov 5, 2020, the special agent is seen providing ‘recent activities’ on Twitter and putting a Minneapolis police Lieutenant in touch with the Twitter staffer.
Some ‘threat’ intel was also delivered by a one-way platform on which many communications were timed to vanish, known as Teleporter.
Taibbi makes note that in approaching the 2020 election, the FITF/FBI ‘overwhelmed’ Twitter with requests sending hundreds of problem accounts, some adorned with Excel attachments.
‘Hi Stacia, FBI Baltimore identified these Twitter handles and tweets which appear to provide misleading information on time, place, or manner of voting in the upcoming elections,’ an email from Chan read.
‘We believe these may violate your terms of service and wanted to bring them to your attention. We would appreciate any feedback you have regarding this matter. Thanks, Regards Elvis.’
There were so many government requests, Twitter employees had to improvise a system for prioritizing and triaging them.
Twitter legal executive Stacia Cardille who is mentioned in several of the emails is seen trying to find a way to ‘prioritize the reports they escalate’ in an email Oct 28, 2020.
‘We are having some issues with the backlog impacting our elections efforts,’ she wrote.
‘Although every #Tweep is valued, I believe it is likely that our reports are the most credible and most urgent – at least for the next week.’
FBI complaints in the newly released files were almost always depicted somewhere as a ‘possible terms of service violation,’ with the subject line tagged ‘(SF) (FBI).’
Twitter legal executive Stacia Cardille who is mentioned in several of the emails is seen trying to find a way to ‘prioritize the reports they escalate’ in an email Oct 28, 2020
Twitter executives also noticed that the FBI appeared to be assigning personnel to look for Twitter violations.
‘They have some folks in the Baltimore field office and at HQ that are just doing keyword searches for violations. This is probably the 10th request I have dealt with in the last 5 days,’ remarked Cardille in an email Nov 3, 2020.
The New York FBI office even sent requests for the ‘user IDs and handles’ of a long list of accounts named in a Daily Beast article. Senior executives saying that they are ‘supportive’ and ‘completely comfortable’ doing so.
‘It seemed to strike no one as strange that a ‘Foreign Influence’ task force was forwarding thousands of mostly domestic reports, along with the DHS, about the fringiest material,’ Taibbi commented.
‘Foreign meddling’ had been the ostensible justification for expanded moderation since platforms like Twitter were dragged to the Hill by the Senate in 2017.’
However, executives were ‘under pressure’ to validate theories of foreign influence.
‘After I reviewed the accounts, and found no links to Russia, I asked [redacted] on this ticket [redacted] and this was the answer: Thanks for tagging in the workflow. From my checks I could not find any indicators to suggest that the account [redacted] is Russian,’ an internal Twitter email stated.
‘Even the other phone linked accounts [redacted] does not have indicators to suggest it is a Russian proxy.’
The email goes on to say several other checks were made and that the company could ‘find a stronger connection.’
‘Going by the content and narrative coming out from the account it is definitely pro-Russian, and/or could be a Russian proxy,’ the email states.
‘I can brainstorm with [redacted] and see if we can dig even deeper and try to find a stronger connection.’
Twitter executives were ‘under pressure’ to validate theories of foreign influence. Some going to extreme lengths to make links, begging the question whether government agencies should have the power to block propaganda, Taibbi said
In a key email, news that the State Department was making a shaky public assertion of Russian influence led an executive, the same one with the ‘OGA’ past, to make a damning admission, Taibbi said.
‘Due to a lack of technical evidence on our end, I’ve generally left it be, waiting for more evidence,’ the executive said.
‘Our window on that is closing, given that government partners are becoming more aggressive on attribution and reporting on it.
‘I’m going to go ahead with suspension and marking the domain as UNSAFE.’
Translation: ‘more aggressive’ ‘government partners’ had closed Twitter’s ‘window’ of independence’ Taibbi quipped.
‘Many people wonder if Internet platforms receive direction from intelligence agencies about moderation of foreign policy news stories. It appears Twitter did, in some cases by way of the FITF/FBI.
‘Often intelligence came in the form of brief reports, followed by long lists of accounts simply deemed to be pro-Maduro, pro-Cuba, pro-Russia, etc. … one batch had over 1000 accounts marked for digital execution.’
While the accounts may have shady origins, Taibbi begs the question, whether such material should be blocked from the public.
‘Intel about the shady origin of these accounts might be true. But so might at least some of the information in them – about neo-Nazis, rights abuses in Donbas, even about our own government. Should we block such material?’ he said.
‘The line between ‘misinformation’ and ‘distorting propaganda’ is thin. Are we comfortable with so many companies receiving so many reports from a ‘more aggressive’ government?’
THE TWITTER FILES: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
BIDEN CAMPAIGN DEMANDED HUNTER TWEETS REMOVED
The first leaks showed how tweets were flagged for removal by President Joe Biden’s campaign team as well as by the Trump White House.
Three of the tweets the Biden camp demanded be deleted contained ‘Hunter Biden porn’ and photos of Biden’s genitalia, from the abandoned laptop, it has been claimed.
The laptop, which the New York Times authenticated long after right-wing media outlets were blasted for reporting about it, contains compromising and embarrassing images of Hunter Biden
One of the tweets requested to be deleted by the DNC was about Hunter smoking crack and a committing a sex act. A second tweet was a link to Hunter Biden weighing and using drugs, and another link to a Hunter Biden sex tape.
‘More to review from the Biden team,’ read one redacted email, which listed five Twitter accounts.
‘Handled these’ was the reply, which meant the accounts had been suspended.
TWITTER SHADOW BANNED CONSERVATIVES – DESPITE CLAIMING THEY DIDN’T
Political accounts that were deliberately downgraded in rankings included right-wing pundits Charlie Kirk, Dan Bongino and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.
These decisions were made by Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support teams with the help of legal counsel as well as the CEO.
Bhattacharaya was downgraded after he penned an op-ed arguing that Covid-19 lockdowns were detrimental to children’s mental health, while Kirk and Bongino found themselves on search blacklists.
In 2018, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s top lawyer, said: ‘We do not who shadow ban.’
The company’s head of products, Kayvon Beykpour added: ‘And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.’
Bongino said his censorship was ‘Soviet’.
FBI TOLD TWITTER TO DELETE PRO-TRUMP TWEETS AND ACCOUNTS
Staff wished to take action against supporters of the January 6 riot and of claims election fraud but were unsure how to do so: Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey was on vacation at the time.
Yoel Roth, head of trust and safety, decided to blacklist the terms ‘kraken’ and ‘stopthesteal.’
Pressure from staff reportedly led to Dorsey approving the decision to permanently suspend Donald Trump.
One Twitter staffer reported to have compared Trump to the ‘leader of a terrorist group responsible for violence/death comparable to the Christchurch shooter or Hitler.’
The words used to justify Trump’s removal were that he was suspended ‘due to the risk of further incitement of violence.’
FBI TOLD TWITTER TO DELETE JOKE ACCOUNTS
The sixth batch of files which showed a comfortable relationship between the FBI and Twitter as the government agency regularly flagged seemingly innocuous tweets for removal.
Many were obvious jokes done by non-public figures with few followers.
They made jokes such as: ‘I’m a ballot counter in my state. If you’re not wearing a mask, I’m not counting your vote. #safetyfirst,’ and: ‘For every negative comment on this post I’m adding another vote for the democrats.’
TWITTER’S HEAD OF CENSORSHIP WAS WORRIED THAT THE COMPANY WAS BREAKING THE LAW BY COLLABORATING WITH THE FBI
Yoel Roth wrote to colleagues to say that he was ‘not comfortable’ with the FBI wanting written answers.
Yoel Roth, who worked as Twitter’s head of safety
Matt Taibbi, who reported the story, tweeted: ‘The idea of the FBI acting as conduit for the Intelligence Community is interesting, given that many agencies are barred from domestic operations.’
Roth went on to remind colleagues that ‘official state propaganda is definitely a thing on Twitter,’ adding that those accounts are treated differently to clandestine government accounts.
FBI PAY TWITTER $3.5M FOR STAFF WORK – AS EX-FED AND TWITTER LAWYER PUSHES SUPPRESSION OF HUNTER LAPTOP STORY
The FBI had compensated Twitter to the tune of $3.5 million in exchange for the company doing the bidding of the agency.
In a staffer’s email to top lawyer Jim Baker, who worked at the FBI before joining Twitter, and chief legal counsel Sean Edgett, the money was said to be used for ‘law-enforcement related projects.’
The same dump showed that prior to the publication of the Hunter Biden laptop story, Baker had a private meeting with FBI officials to warn that the story could be rooted in a Russian disinformation campaign ahead of the election.
Baker noted in a message to the censorship team that all of the facts were not in, but that the article should be suppressed anyway.
Jim Baker, who before serving as deputy general counsel for Twitter held a similar role for the FBI
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