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Is This Something? | Main | Quick Hits
December 16, 2022

Twitter Files, Part VI

Of course he drops it late Friday afternoon, again.

So... the media has an easier time ignoring it -- bury news you don't want covered with a Friday evening dump -- and the only people who care about it, conservatives, have to blog about it Friday night.

Yeah, let's never hold this for Monday morning, ever. Not even a single time.

Anyway:

Elon Musk @elonmusk

And soon, ladies & gentlemen, the coup de grâce

Sounds like there will be more coming as far as the government "micromanaging" censorship decisions.


Below, Taibbi says the FBI and DHS are not involved in censorship as part of some criminal case, they're involved in censorship "because they're in the censorship business."

Another interesting point is about the "geography" of censorship he's uncovering, meaning: How censorship requests actually get to Twitter. In the early going, they assumed, wrongly, that these requests would come through official channels, government officials sending emails to Twitter lawyers or officials. Now he says they're realizing that there were backchannel methods of asking for -- or demanding -- censorship, including, maybe, just asking ol' Jim Baker to delete something. Or maybe someone at the neoliberal Hillary-Clinton-connected/Russiagate-pushing Atlantic Council calling a friend at Twitter and asking them to take a looksie at some "disinformation."

Now that their eyes are open to these unofficial routes of official government censorship, they should be exposing this type of "request" as well.

And, by the way: I suspect the most objectionable, most over-the-line censorship demands will be smuggled in through these friendly unofficial backchannel requests. Maximum deniability.


On to the actual tweets, which are, once again, released on a day, at an hour, calculated to have the least possible impact on a media which already doesn't want to cover the story.

Matt Taibbi @mtaibbi

1. THREAD: The Twitter Files, Part Six
TWITTER, THE FBI SUBSIDIARY

Matt Taibbi
@mtaibbi

2. The #TwitterFiles are revealing more every day about how the government collects, analyzes, and flags your social media content.

3. Twitter's contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary.

4. Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. It's no secret the government analyzes bulk data for all sorts of purposes, everything from tracking terror suspects to making economic forecasts.

10. The #TwitterFiles show something new: agencies like the FBI and DHS regularly sending social media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation.

This is that "geography of censorship" mentioned above.

11. What stands out is the sheer quantity of reports from the government. Some are aggregated from public hotlines:

electiondaywarningcensorship.jfif

12.An unanswered question: do agencies like FBI and DHS do in-house flagging work themselves, or farm it out? "You have to prove to me that inside the fucking government you can do any kind of massive data or AI search," says one former intelligence officer.

Hmm, so the FBI is getting its list of people to ban from "friendly" sources? Like leftwing "disinformation" groups, one would assume?

Or maybe people working within Twitter and FaceBook themselves? They email the FBI, who then makes the formal request to ban the accounts so that the companies have an official pretext for the bannings?

[13.] "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:

hellotwitter.jfif

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:

banescalation.jfif

obviousjoke.jfif

They also asked for action regarding a single liberal/Democrat for making a similar joke about elections. Four of the six accounts the FBI demanded action on were banned. Not the Democrat account, and not the Fromma account, though.

Blue checks might have saved them.

18.In an internal email from November 5, 2022, the FBI's National Election Command Post, which compiles and sends on complaints, sent the SF field office a long list of accounts that "may warrant additional action"
locationrequested.jfif

Note they're demanding information about user location.

19.Agent Chan passed the list on to his "Twitter folks":

elvischanfolks.jfif

20. Twitter then replied with its list of actions taken. Note mercy shown to actor Billy Baldwin:

billybaldwinmercy.png

21.Many of the above accounts were satirical in nature, nearly all (with the exceptions of Baldwin and @RSBNetwork) were relatively low engagement, and some were suspended, most with a generic, "Thanks, Twitter" letter [screenshots omitted]


22.When told of the FBI flagging, @Lexitollah replied: "My thoughts initially include 1. Seems like prima facie 1A violation 2. Holy cow, me, an account with the reach of an amoeba 3. What else are they looking at?"

23."I can't believe the FBI is policing jokes on Twitter. That's crazy," said @Tiberius444

24. In 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: [Letter here]


5.The Twitter exec writes she explicitly asked if there were "impediments" to the sharing of classified information "with industry." The answer? "FBI was adamant no impediments to sharing exist."

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?


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posted by Ace at 05:10 PM

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