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« THE MORNING RANT: The TVA in the Biden Era – Blackouts & Rural De-Electrification | Main | Judge Dismisses Kari Lake's Election Lawsuit, Because Of Course »
December 26, 2022

The Twitter Files: How Twitter Rigged the Covid Debate

1. THREAD:

THE TWITTER FILES: HOW TWITTER RIGGED THE COVID DEBATE

-- By censoring info that was true but inconvenient to U.S. govt. policy
-- By discrediting doctors and other experts who disagreed
-- By suppressing ordinary users, including some sharing the CDC's *own data*


2. So far the Twitter Files have focused on evidence of Twitter's secret blacklists; how the company functioned as a kind of subsidiary of the FBI; and how execs rewrote the platform's rules to accommodate their own political desires.

3. What we have yet to cover is Covid. This reporting, for The Free Press, @thefp, is one piece of that important story.

4. The United States government pressured Twitter and other social media platforms to elevate certain content and suppress other content about Covid-19.

5. Internal files at Twitter that I viewed while on assignment for @thefp showed that both the Trump and Biden administrations directly pressed Twitter executives to moderate the platform's pandemic content according to their wishes.

6. At the onset of the pandemic, according to meeting notes, the Trump admin was especially concerned about panic buying. They came looking for "help from the tech companies to combat misinformation" about "runs on grocery stores." But . . . there were runs on grocery stores.


7. It wasn't just Twitter. The meetings with the Trump White House were also attended by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others.

8. When the Biden admin took over, one of their first meeting requests with Twitter executives was on Covid. The focus was on "anti-vaxxer accounts." Especially Alex Berenson[.]

9. In the summer of 2021, president Biden said social media companies were "killing people" for allowing vaccine misinformation. Berenson was suspended hours after Biden's comments, and kicked off the platform the following month.


11. A December 2022 summary of meetings with the White House by Lauren Culbertson, Twitter's Head of U.S. Public Policy, adds new evidence of the White House's pressure campaign, and cements that it repeatedly attempted to directly influence the platform.

12. Culbertson wrote that the Biden team was "very angry" that Twitter had not been more aggressive in deplatforming multiple accounts. They wanted Twitter to do more.

13. Twitter executives did not fully capitulate to the Biden team's wishes. An extensive review of internal communications at the company revealed employees often debating moderation cases in great detail, and with more care than was shown by the government toward free speech.

14. But Twitter did suppress views--many from doctors and scientific experts--that conflicted with the official positions of the White House. As a result, legitimate findings and questions that would have expanded the public debate went missing.

There's an expanded report about this at The Free Press.

This expanded bit on AI demonstrates that AI is just built up from human stupidity. When they claim "The Algorithm" made something happen, they're trying to evade responsibility -- they program "The Algorithm," and they program their AI to search for what they consider disinformation.

I'll quote the expanded article instead of the Twitter files for this section:

But Twitter did suppress views--and not just those of journalists like Berenson. Many medical and public health professionals who expressed perspectives or even cited findings from accredited academic journals that conflicted with official positions were also targeted. As a result, legitimate findings and questions about our Covid policies and their consequences went missing.

There were three serious problems with Twitter's process.

First: Much of the content moderation on Covid, to say nothing of other contentious subjects, was conducted by bots trained on machine learning and AI. I spent hours discussing the systems with an engineer and with an executive who had been at the company for more than a year before Musk's takeover. They explained the process in basic terms: Initially, the bots were fed information to train them on what to look for--but their searches would become more refined over time both as they scanned the platform and as they were manually updated with additional chosen inputs. At least that was the premise. Though impressive in their engineering, the bots would prove too crude for such nuanced work. When you drag a digital trawler across a social media platform, you're not just catching cheap fish, you're going to snag dolphins along the way.

Second: Contractors operating in places like the Philippines were also moderating content. They were given decision trees to aid in their process, but tasking non-experts to adjudicate tweets on complex topics like myocarditis and mask efficacy data was destined for a significant error rate. The notion that remote workers, sitting in distant cube farms, were going to police medical information to this granular degree is absurd on its face.

Embedded below is an example template--deactivated after Musk's arrival--of the decision tree tool that contractors used. The contractor would run through a series of questions, each with a drop down menu, ultimately guiding them to a predetermined conclusion.

dropdowncensorshipjpegged.jpg

Third: Most importantly, the buck stopped with higher level employees at Twitter. They chose the inputs for the bots and decision trees. They determined suspensions. And as is the case with all people and institutions, there was both individual and collective bias.

At Twitter, Covid-related bias bent heavily toward establishment dogmas. Inevitably, dissident yet legitimate content was labeled as misinformation, and the accounts of doctors and others were suspended both for tweeting opinions and demonstrably true information.

Back to the Twitter files.

26. Internal records showed that a bot had flagged the tweet, and that it received many "tattles" (what the system amusingly called reports from users). That triggered a manual review by a human who-- despite the tweet showing actual CDC data--nevertheless labeled it "Misleading"

27. Tellingly, the tweet by @KelleyKga that was labeled "Misleading" was a reply to a tweet that contained actual misinformation.

Covid has never been the leading cause of death from disease in children. Yet that tweet remains on the platform, and without a "misleading" label.

30. A review of Twitter log files revealed that an internal audit, conducted after Bostom's attorney contacted Twitter, found that only 1 of Bostom's 5 violations were valid.

31. The one Bostom tweet found to still be in violation cited data that was legitimate but inconvenient to the public health establishment's narrative about the risks of flu versus Covid in children.

32. That this tweet was not only flagged by a bot, but its violation manually affirmed by a staff member is telling of both the algorithmic and human bias at play. Bostom's account was suspended for months and was finally restored on Christmas Day.


This is amazing: Trump saying "Don't be afraid" was claimed to be a "covid misinformation" violation by... disgraced FBI Russiagate conspirator and then-Twitter head counsel James Baker.

So, according to disgraced Russiagate conspirator James Baker, the command "be afraid" is a scientific fact and any contradiction of this medical fact warrants censorship.

35. Yoel Roth, Twitter's former head of Trust & Safety, had to explain that optimism wasn't misinformation.

36. Remember @KelleyKga with the CDC data tweet? Twitter's response to her is clarifying: "we will prioritize review and labeling of content that could lead to increased exposure or transmission."

37. Twitter made a decision, via the political leanings of senior staff, and govt pressure, that the public health authorities' approach to the pandemic -- prioritizing mitigation over other concerns -- was "The Science" . . .

38. Information that challenged that view, such as showing harms of vaccines, or that could be perceived as downplaying the risks of Covid, especially to children, was subject to moderation, and even suppression. No matter whether such views were correct or adopted abroad.

39. What might this pandemic and its aftermath have looked like if there had been a more open debate on Twitter and other social media platforms--not to mention the mainstream press--about the origins of Covid, about lockdowns, about the true risks of Covid in kids, and much more?

40. Thanks to @ShellenbergerMD, @lwoodhouse, @lhfang and the team @thefp for their help reporting this story.



Twitter didn't just "rig" the Covid "debate," as this Twitter Files claim. As Jay Bhattacharya explains below, they ended 90% of all public debate and hid what little debate had occurred so that the public was never even aware that top scientists, with far more credibility and training that Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, disputed their claims.

And by stopping/hiding that debate, Twitter (and all other social media monopolies) permitted true misinformation-- Fauci and Collins misinformation -- to affect the public and as a result, people died.

Half-day today. Posts will be short.

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posted by Ace at 12:02 PM

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