Matt Taibbi Releases New ‘Twitter Files’ Info Showing Feds Pushed Twitter Over ‘Propaganda Actors’

Journalist Matt Taibbi released additional documents in “The Twitter Files” Sunday night after he published a more exhaustive release late last week showing how federal law enforcement officials were in regular contact with Twitter employees flagging content for them to potentially censor on the platform.

Taibbi’s release on Friday revealed 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 investigation showed that the FBI and DHS were “regularly sending social media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation.”

Taibbi’s supplemental release on Sunday appeared to show that federal law enforcement officials were displeased with the company for suggesting that they had “not observed much recent activity from official propaganda actors on your platform.”

3.The questionnaire authors seem displeased with Twitter for implying, in a July 20th “DHS/ODNI/FBI/Industry briefing,” that “you indicated you had not observed much recent activity from official propaganda actors on your platform.” pic.twitter.com/VR3DdkRyOr

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 18, 2022

The Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), the inter-agency group that deals with cyber threats, “demanded to know how Twitter came to its unpopular conclusion,” Taibbi wrote. “Oddly, it included a bibliography of public sources – including a Wall Street Journal article – attesting to the prevalence of foreign threats, as if to show Twitter they got it wrong.”

After receiving the questions from the feds, Roth complained that he was “frankly perplexed by the requests here, which seem more like something we’d get from a congressional committee than the Bureau.”

7.Roth, receiving the questions, circulated them with other company executives, and complained that he was “frankly perplexed by the requests here, which seem more like something we’d get from a congressional committee than the Bureau.” pic.twitter.com/SrLrdZLREa

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 18, 2022

“[Roth] added he was not ‘comfortable with the Bureau (and by extension the IC) demanding written answers.’ The idea of the FBI acting as conduit for the Intelligence Community is interesting, given that many agencies are barred from domestic operations,” Taibbi continued. “He then sent another note internally, saying the premise of the questions was ‘flawed,’ because ‘we’ve been clear that official state propaganda is definitely a thing on Twitter.’ Note the italics for emphasis.”

9.He then sent another note internally, saying the premise of the questions was “flawed,” because “we’ve been clear that official state propaganda is definitely a thing on Twitter.” Note the italics for emphasis. pic.twitter.com/cNzrjcMJfD

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 18, 2022

11.This exchange is odd among other things because some of the “bibliography” materials cited by the FITF are sourced to intelligence officials, who in turn cited the public sources.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 18, 2022

The FBI released a statement Friday evening in response to Taibbi’s reporting, saying that the bureau “regularly engages with private sector entities to provide information specific to identified foreign malign influence actors’ subversive, undeclared, covert, or criminal activities.”

“Private sector entities independently make decisions about what, if any, action they take on their platforms and for their customers after the FBI has notified them,” the statement added.

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