The most recent round of releases of Twitter’s internal documents shows that it was extensively collaborating with the FBI to spread election disinformation that could’ve damaged presidential candidate Joe Biden.
- “The Twitter Files” have continued to be released consistently since December 2 by independent journalist Matt Taibbi, The Free Press journalist Bari Weiss, and author Michael Shellenberger.
- The sixth round was released on Friday, December 16 followed by the newest seventh round on Monday, December 19.
- The seventh part builds off the claim that Twitter worked as an FBI subsidiary, working with an 80-member social media enforcement force following the 2016 election to pressure and direct the company, even requesting information about specific users.
- “In Twitter Files seven, we present evidence pointing to an organized effort by representatives of the intelligence community, aimed at senior executives at news and social media companies, to discredit leaked information about Hunter Biden before and after it was published,” says Shellenberger.
Why it’s Important
The FBI’s influence played a role in the suppression of a story that could have affected the outcome of the 2020 election and it hasn’t faded. As late as August 2022, Twitter was still collaborating with the FBI, attempting to set up warrantless “emergency disclosure requests.”
“I have concerns about whether the government was running a misinformation operation on We the People,” says Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Breaking It Down
The first round of the Twitter files already revealed the social media app had taken steps to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story posted by The New York Post in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, claiming the story represented “hacked materials” but internally struggled to frame the reason for the suppression.
Following the New York Post approaching Hunter Biden’s lawyers on October 13 regarding its intention to publish, FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sent documents to Twitter’s Head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth. The story went live on October 14, 2020. Twitter subsequently suppressed the story, thanks to an organized effort to crush the story from the intelligence community.
“During all of 2020, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies repeatedly primed Yoel Roth to dismiss reports of Hunter Biden’s laptop as a Russian ‘hack and leak’ operation,” says Shellenberger.
Yoel did stand up against some FBI requests, including some unwarranted data requests in January 2020. Internally though Twitter recognized it was facing a sustained effort by the intelligence community to share information and change policies, requesting information beyond what a normal legal search would permit. The FBI went as far as to give Twitter leads Top Secret clearance to discuss supposed threats to the election.
Chan primed Yoel to believe that stories like Hunter Biden’s laptop story would be tied to the Russian hacking organization APT28. He would coordinate in exercises to help “shape how the media covered it—and how social media carried it,” alongside Meta employees, national security reporters from The New York Times and Washington Post, and former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller.
“As of 2020, there were so many former FBI employees — ‘Bu alumni’—working at Twitter that they had created their own private Slack channel and a crib sheet to onboard new FBI arrivals,” says Shellenberger.
“The FBI basically came to us [and] was like, ‘Hey… you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in 2016 election. There’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that,'” says Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.