Matt Taibbi: “During this time, executives were also clearly liaising with federal enforcement and intelligence agencies about moderation of election-related content… [W]e didn’t see one reference to moderation requests from the Trump campaign, the Trump White House, or Republicans generally.”
After the first batch of the Twitterfiles were released, I argued that #Twitterfiles Are About Biden Family Corruption and Media Coverup, but that Elon Musk may have made a mistake by asserting there was a First Amendment issue, as government involvement in that first release was muddy “based on what’s been revealed”:
Musk made a mistake by portraying this as a First Amendment issue and as government interference. That allowed others, particularly in the corrupt corporate media, to argue over whether it really was a constitutional issue because the government involvement was obtuse (based on what’s been revealed). The government involvement was by the Trump FBI, but anyone with half a brain knows that the Trump FBI was out to get Trump, so the issue is muddy. And Biden campaign involvement was pre-Biden administration.
So we have this fevered distraction about whether the 1st Amendment applied — it’s reminiscent of the endless debate about whether the gross racialization of education really is “Critical Race Theory.” Arguing over what the meaning of “is” is, is a classic Democrat tactic.
What the files do show is a deliberate effort by leftists inside Twitter (which was about all of them) to spike the story and any mention of the story on the most important political platform in the country, based on false claims that the laptop was hacked and/or Russian disinformation. It was one of the greatest travesties of media manipulation, amplified across multiple platforms and mainstream media outlets.
They killed the greatest threat to the Biden candidacy — the exposure a month before the election that Joe Biden sold his office and his access via his son, and he lied about it….
…. we must not shy away from the truth that the run-up to the 2020 election was manipulated to bury a story that could have and possibly would have changed the outcome of the election.
The second release was even more interesting, but did not reveal much about government involvement, #Twitterfiles Part 2: “Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics”.
The third release tonight takes this all to another level. Matt Taibbi has a long Twitter thread about what he has found in this third release. The title of the thread is “THREAD: The Twitter Files THE REMOVAL OF DONALD TRUMP Part One: October 2020-January 6th,” but the most interesting parts to me are the pre-election activities. The government in the form of the FBI and DHS was intimately involved in Twitter’s censorship regime BEFORE the 2020 election.
That timing is critical. The government partnered with Twitter to censor political speech before the election — having nothing to do with post-election claims of election fraud, J6, or anything that allegedly was part of a criminal conspiracy.
Here are some key findings regarding pre-election censorship (emphasis added):
3. We’ll show you what hasn’t been revealed: the erosion of standards within the company in months before J6, decisions by high-ranking executives to violate their own policies, and more, against the backdrop of ongoing, documented interaction with federal agencies.
8. The bulk of the internal debate leading to Trump’s ban took place in those three January days. However, the intellectual framework was laid in the months preceding the Capitol riots.
9. Before J6, Twitter was a unique mix of automated, rules-based enforcement, and more subjective moderation by senior executives. As @BariWeiss reported, the firm had a vast array of tools for manipulating visibility, most all of which were thrown at Trump (and others) pre-J6.
10. As the election approached, senior executives – perhaps under pressure from federal agencies, with whom they met more as time progressed – increasingly struggled with rules, and began to speak of “vios” as pretexts to do what they’d likely have done anyway.
14. On October 8th, 2020, executives opened a channel called “us2020_xfn_enforcement.” Through J6, this would be home for discussions about election-related removals, especially ones that involved “high-profile” accounts (often called “VITs” or “Very Important Tweeters”).
15. There was at least some tension between Safety Operations – a larger department whose staffers used a more rules-based process for addressing issues like porn, scams, and threats – and a smaller, more powerful cadre of senior policy execs like Roth and Gadde.
16. The latter group were a high-speed Supreme Court of moderation, issuing content rulings on the fly, often in minutes and based on guesses, gut calls, even Google searches, even in cases involving the President.
17. During this time, executives were also clearly liaising with federal enforcement and intelligence agencies about moderation of election-related content. While we’re still at the start of reviewing the #TwitterFiles, we’re finding out more about these interactions every day.
18. Policy Director Nick Pickles is asked if they should say Twitter detects “misinfo” through “ML, human review, and **partnerships with outside experts?*” The employee asks, “I know that’s been a slippery process… not sure if you want our public explanation to hang on that.”
19. Pickles quickly asks if they could “just say “partnerships.” After a pause, he says, “e.g. not sure we’d describe the FBI/DHS as experts.”
20. This post about the Hunter Biden laptop situation shows that Roth not only met weekly with the FBI and DHS, but with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI):
21. Roth’s report to FBI/DHS/DNI is almost farcical in its self-flagellating tone: “We blocked the NYP story, then unblocked it (but said the opposite)… comms is angry, reporters think we’re idiots… in short, FML” (fuck my life).
23. Some of Roth’s later Slacks indicate his weekly confabs with federal law enforcement involved separate meetings. Here, he ghosts the FBI and DHS, respectively, to go first to an “Aspen Institute thing,” then take a call with Apple.
24. Here, the FBI sends reports about a pair of tweets, the second of which involves a former Tippecanoe County, Indiana Councilor and Republican named @JohnBasham claiming “Between 2% and 25% of Ballots by Mail are Being Rejected for Errors.”
The FBI’s second report concerned this tweet by @JohnBasham:
25. The FBI-flagged tweet then got circulated in the enforcement Slack. Twitter cited Politifact to say the first story was “proven to be false,” then noted the second was already deemed “no vio on numerous occasions.”
26. The group then decides to apply a “Learn how voting is safe and secure” label because one commenter says, “it’s totally normal to have a 2% error rate.” Roth then gives the final go-ahead to the process initiated by the FBI:
27. Examining the entire election enforcement Slack, we didn’t see one reference to moderation requests from the Trump campaign, the Trump White House, or Republicans generally. We looked. They may exist: we were told they do. However, they were absent here.
34. In the docs, execs often expand criteria to subjective issues like intent (yes, a video is authentic, but why was it shown?), orientation (was a banned tweet shown to condemn, or support?), or reception (did a joke cause “confusion”?). This reflex will become key in J6.
35. In another example, Twitter employees prepare to slap a “mail-in voting is safe” warning label on a Trump tweet about a postal screwup in Ohio, before realizing “the events took place,” which meant the tweet was “factually accurate”:
36. “VERY WELL DONE ON SPEED” Trump was being “visibility filtered” as late as a week before the election. Here, senior execs didn’t appear to have a particular violation, but still worked fast to make sure a fairly anodyne Trump tweet couldn’t be “replied to, shared, or liked”:
39. Here a label is applied to Georgia Republican congresswoman Jody Hice for saying, “Say NO to big tech censorship!” and, “Mailed ballots are more prone to fraud than in-person balloting… It’s just common sense.”
41. Meanwhile, there are multiple instances of involving pro-Biden tweets warning Trump “may try to steal the election” that got surfaced, only to be approved by senior executives. This one, they decide, just “expresses concern that mailed ballots might not make it on time.”
42. “THAT’S UNDERSTANDABLE”: Even the hashtag #StealOurVotes – referencing a theory that a combo of Amy Coney Barrett and Trump will steal the election – is approved by Twitter brass, because it’s “understandable” and a “reference to… a US Supreme Court decision.”
43. In this exchange, again unintentionally humorous, former Attorney General Eric Holder claimed the U.S. Postal Service was “deliberately crippled,”ostensibly by the Trump administration. He was initially hit with a generic warning label, but it was quickly taken off by Roth:
48. The significance is that it shows that Twitter, in 2020 at least, was deploying a vast range of visible and invisible tools to rein in Trump’s engagement, long before J6. The ban will come after other avenues are exhausted
The remainder of the thread is devoted to post-election claims and the run-up to J6 and the banning of Trump. But again, to me, the pre-election shadowbanning and throttling revealed in Part 2, combined with pre-election censorhip in partnership with the government, is the real blockbuster.
Unequivocally true. The evidence is clear and voluminous.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2022
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.