Independent journalist Matt Taibbi — who released the first installment of the "Twitter Files" and kicked off a firestorm of revelations that led to Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker being "exited" from the company — dropped another round of documents and information on Friday evening.
This time, the deep-dive into Twitter's internal machinations focused on its role as a "subsidiary" of the FBI. The Twitter Files, Taibbi wrote in his thread of information, "are revealing more every day about how the government collects, analyzes, and flags your social media content," including how "Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive."
1. THREAD: The Twitter Files, Part Six— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
TWITTER, THE FBI SUBSIDIARY
Just how constant, you may ask. Well, as Taibbi explained, the timespan covering January 2020 to November 2022 saw more than "150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth." Of those emails, some "are mundane, like San Francisco agent Elvis Chan wishing Roth a Happy New Year along with a reminder to attend 'our quarterly call next week.' Others are requests for information into Twitter users related to active investigations," Taibbi said. "But 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."
This latest installment of the Twitter files confirms another side of what many conservatives believed to be true, and also refutes claims from liberals after earlier Twitter Files releases who said there's no First Amendment issues with Twitter's conduct in the past. While it may have been easy to say there's nothing controversial about the Biden campaign or the DNC asking their friends at Twitter to remove negative content, it's a different ballgame entirely when the FBI — a government agency — is making the requests to stifle Americans' online expression.
Taibbi shared a screenshot of an email from the FBI to Twitter seeking action against a handful of accounts, confirming that the federal government was pushing Twitter to act against individual users.
“HELLO TWITTER CONTACTS”: The master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter comes through in this November 2022 email, in which “FBI San Francisco is notifying you” it wants action on four accounts: pic.twitter.com/LjgB6fxENo— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Another email in response explains that three of the accounts flagged by the FBI were suspended:
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: pic.twitter.com/gwiDtPcWZv— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
A subsequent email shared by Taibbi contained a list of accounts for additional followup from the FBI's National Election Command Post which was forwarded to the San Francisco field office and dutifully passed along to Twitter:
19.Agent Chan passed the list on to his "Twitter folks": pic.twitter.com/eXaZnC3I7y— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Twitter would later respond to the FBI with its actions based on the list flagged by the FBI, even though numerous penalized accounts were clearly satire.
20. Twitter then replied with its list of actions taken. Note mercy shown to actor Billy Baldwin: pic.twitter.com/zQzNGQMKmO— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Further showing the "subsidiary" role Twitter played with the FBI and other federal agencies, Taibbi shared a screenshot of a 2022 email setting up weekly meetings between the social media company and Biden's bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, FBI, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
https://t.co/9IfX3IPzyi a letter to former Deputy General Counsel (and former top FBI lawyer) Jim Baker on Sep. 16, 2022, legal exec Stacia Cardille outlines results from her “soon to be weekly” meeting with DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: pic.twitter.com/oE8fDjomNP— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
What's more, the Biden FBI reportedly said that it saw "no impediments" to sharing classified information "with industry," presumably Twitter in this case.
26. 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?— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
As Taibbi goes on to explain, Twitter's work with the federal government only continued to ramp up under the Biden administration and pivoted from election information to dealing with "domestic violent extremist" threats.
32.The executive circulates the “products,” which are really DHS bulletins stressing the need for greater collaboration between law enforcement and “private sector partners.” pic.twitter.com/by9cpm7YVf— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Taibbi concludes from the emails between federal agencies and Twitter that the "ubiquity of the 2016 Russian interference story as stated pretext for building out the censorship machine can't be overstated. It's analogous to how 9/11 inspired the expansion of the security state."
Twitter's leftist-dominated culture warriors were more than happy to play a role in expanding the "censorship machine," as seen on internal communications shared by Taibbi:
35.FBI in one case sent over so many “possible violative content” reports, Twitter personnel congratulated each other in Slack for the “monumental undertaking” of reviewing them: pic.twitter.com/rt5WzhfCga— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
And, much like Facebook had a portal specifically for government bureaucrats to submit information for review, Twitter made sure the Biden administration could also reach them through multiple avenues to flag 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: pic.twitter.com/lNbgvsu5LV— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
The numerous pathways for flagging information with Twitter were used not just by the FBI, but also by DHS in at least one example shared as part of the latest Twitter Files release:
37.Reports also came from different agencies. Here, an employee recommends “bouncing” content based on evidence from “DHS etc”: pic.twitter.com/5DP8DEFZiO— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
And state governments, such as California's, also took advantage of the reporting methods to flag items, including tweets by former President Donald Trump going back as far as the fall of 2020.
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: pic.twitter.com/W4DQvYwq7Z— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Other entities also reported accounts and posts to Twitter, showing how convoluted the sources of information seeking to have Twitter bend to their will had become before Musk took over and started blowing the whistle on his company's prior actions.
https://t.co/4zD4nEkDdW, a video was reported by the Election Integrity Project (EIP) at Stanford, apparently on the strength of information from the Center for Internet Security (CIS): pic.twitter.com/kJfJ6gDrb1— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
44.The takeaway: what most people think of as the “deep state” is really a tangled collaboration of state agencies, private contractors, and (sometimes state-funded) NGOs. The lines become so blurred as to be meaningless.— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
After Friday's thread was completed, Taibbi teased future Twitter Files releases from himself, Bari Weiss, and Michael Shellenberger on "a variety of new areas" they're researching.