BREAKING: New ‘Twitter Files’ Shows How Federal, State Governments Monitor Americans’ Social Media Posts

A new drop in “The Twitter Files” series Friday afternoon shows that federal law enforcement officials were working in close contact with employees at Twitter to censor content.

Journalist Matt Taibbi said that between January 2020 and November 2022, then-Twitter Senior Director of Trust & Safety Yoel Roth had exchanged more than 150 emails with the FBI.

“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.”

“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.

Taibbi noted that the newest documents discovered throughout the course of the investigation showed that 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:

14.Twitter personnel in that case went on to look for reasons to suspend all four accounts, including @fromma, whose tweets are almost all jokes (see sample below), including his “civic misinformation” of Nov. 8:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022

16. “Anyone who cannot discern obvious satire from reality has no place making decisions for others or working for the feds,” said @ClaireFosterPHD, when told about the flagging.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022 an internal email from November 5, 2022, the FBI’s National Election Command Post, which compiles and sends on complaints, sent the SF field office a long list of accounts that “may warrant additional action”:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022

20. Twitter then replied with its list of actions taken. Note mercy shown to actor Billy Baldwin:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022

22.When told of the FBI flagging, @Lexitollah replied: “My thoughts initially include 1. Seems like prima facie 1A violation 2. Holy cow, me, an account with the reach of an amoeba 3. What else are they looking at?”

— 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 that she was having regular meetings with the FBI, DOJ, DHS, and ODNI about election threats.

Other internal company emails showed employees processing a list of tweets that were flagged by the FBI for “possible violative content”:

29.Another internal letter from January, 2021 shows Twitter execs processing an FBI list of “possible violative content” tweets:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022

The FBI also shared DHS bulletins with Twitter about threats related to U.S. elections.

32.The executive circulates the “products,” which are really DHS bulletins stressing the need for greater collaboration between law enforcement and “private sector partners.”

— 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.”

Taibbi said that the volume of tweets flagged the FBI was so great that Twitter employees congratulated each other in internal company communications for the “monumental undertaking” of reviewing them.

Taibbi also revealed that there were multiple channels that government can submit information to Twitter about content.

36.There were multiple points of entry into Twitter for government-flagged reports. This letter from Agent Chan to Roth references Teleporter, a platform through which Twitter could receive reports from the FBI:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022

38.State governments also flagged content.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022

The state of California also reached out and demanded to know why the company did not take action on a tweet from then-President Donald Trump.

40.“WHY WAS NO ACTION TAKEN?” Below, Twitter execs – receiving an alert from California officials, by way of “our partner support portal” – debate whether to act on a Trump tweet:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022

This is a breaking news story; refresh the page for updates.

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