Twitter Was In Contact With Multiple Gov Agencies; Ex-FBI Lawyer Surprised By FBI’s Actions; Feds Sought Action On Foreign Narratives On Ukraine, COVID

Journalist Matt Taibbi released a new installment of “The Twitter Files” Saturday afternoon that showed that the FBI was not the only government agency that was in regular contact with Twitter about content on the platform.

Taibbi said that the State Department, Department of Defense, and Central Intelligence Agency were also involved in contacting the platform about potential foreign propaganda on the platform.

Internal company emails showed that FBI agent Elvis Chan asked Twitter executives if he could invite an “OGA” — Other Government Agency — to an upcoming conference.

The email referred to a Twitter employee, whose name was redacted, and said that people from the employee’s “former employer,” which a Twitter executive acknowledged meant the CIA, were specifically inquiring about the invitation.

12.The first Twitter executive abandoned any pretense to stealth and emailed that the employee “used to work for the CIA, so that is Elvis’s question.” pic.twitter.com/5kL8xNRZcO

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

One of Twitter’s head lawyers said in internal company communications that the fact that employee used to work for the CIA was supposed to be a secret.

13.Senior legal executive Stacia Cardille, whose alertness stood out among Twitter leaders, replied, “I know” and “I thought my silence was understood.” pic.twitter.com/SkBObgCQZG

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

“The government was in constant contact not just with Twitter but with virtually every major tech firm,” Taibbi said. “These included Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest, and many others. Industry players also held regular meetings without government.”

The new Twitter Files release also showed that FBI officials helped put the company in contact with local law enforcement officials to deal with issues.

Taibbi said that the FBI was “clearly tailoring” its searches on the platform to look for potential content violations that Twitter could take action on.

Ex-FBI lawyer Jim Baker, who was involved in a lot of controversy surrounding his involvement in different investigations into former President Donald Trump, even thought that the FBI’s actions were strange.

“Odd that they are searching for violations of our policies,” Baker said in an email.

29.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 say they are “supportive” and “completely comfortable” doing so. pic.twitter.com/MfSX7NcZJF

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

The Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) flagged the “fringiest” conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election to the social media company.

31. “Foreign meddling” had been the ostensible justification for expanded moderation since platforms like Twitter were dragged to the Hill by the Senate in 2017: pic.twitter.com/b3wR2aUjcf

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

The Twitter Files showed that Twitter was at times under pressure from to take action on accounts that federal law enforcement claimed were tied to foreign governments, even though it didn’t have enough evidence to come to the same conclusion as those law enforcement agencies.

35. “Extremely tenuous circumstantial chance of being related,” says another. pic.twitter.com/nLnShIZTLc

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

39. In a key email, news that the State Department was making a wobbly public assertion of Russian influence led an exec – the same one with the “OGA” past – to make a damning admission:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

The Twitter employee who allegedly worked at the CIA in the past said that one claim from the State Department about Russian influence operations was not supported by the company’s conclusions because the company had “a lack of technical evidence.”

He also said that government pressure was increasing because they wanted to give attribution to the countries responsible for the influence campaigns.

41. Translation: “more aggressive” “government partners” had closed Twitter’s “window” of independence.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

“‘Other Government Agencies’ ended up sharing intelligence through the FBI and FITF not just with Twitter, but with Yahoo!, Twitch, Clouldfare, LinkedIn, even Wikimedia,” Taibbi added. “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.”

Federal law enforcement also flagged for Twitter suspicious accounts that could have been tied to foreign operatives that were promoting narratives about Ukraine and coronavirus vaccines. The accounts were tweeting “Ukraine ‘neo-Nazi’ Propaganda’” and claiming that the administration was corrupt in determining which countries that it sent vaccines to.

48. Another report asserts a list of accounts accusing the “Biden administration” of “corruption” in vaccine distribution are part of a Russian influence campaign: pic.twitter.com/RPDDFNWaji

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

51. 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?

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

53. Often intel reports are just long lists of newspapers, tweets or YouTube videos guilty of “anti-Ukraine narratives”: pic.twitter.com/6q7IX5S7WM

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

“This is a difficult speech dilemma. Should the government be allowed to try to prevent Americans (and others) from seeing pro-Maduro or anti-Ukrainian accounts?” Taibbi concluded. “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?”

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