Journalist Matt Taibbi released the latest round of internal Twitter communications, the Twitter Files. Here are some of the key takeaways from more than two dozen tweets.
- Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were more than 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth. It was as if “the FBI were a subsidiary,” writes Taibbi.
- Some are ordinary communications, but others “are requests for information into Twitter users related to active investigations,” Taibbi reports.
- The FBI formed an 80-member social-media task force after the 2016 election, and it communicated with Twitter to identify alleged foreign influence of elections.
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) worked with outside think tanks to put pressure on the social-media site to moderate content.
- “The FBI and DHS regularly send social-media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation,” Taibbi adds.
- In one email, Taibbi reports, the intelligence community spoke like it was a directive to take action on four specific accounts, saying: “FBI San Francisco is notifying you…”
- Twitter then looked for reasons to suspend those four accounts the FBI referenced.
- In discussing how to handle classified information, the FBI told Twitter execs that there “are no impediments.”
- “This passage underscores the unique one-big-happy-family vibe between Twitter and the FBI. With what other firm would the FBI blithely agree to “no impediments” to classified information?
WHY IT’S NEWS
The Twitter Files have presented evidence that the company interacted with many outside parties in ways that were not in line with Twitter’s professed commitment to freedom of speech. Earlier files revealed many examples of the company shutting down accounts of influential conservatives. But this latest release makes clear the cozy relationship Twitter had with federal law enforcement, likely because the social-media firm was so accommodating to requests from agencies such as the FBI and DHS.
It’s remarkable that in little over two years, there were at least 150 emails between the FBI alone and Twitter Trust and Safety chief. Many of those were from federal officials asking the public company to either reveal information or take action against its users.