Twitter has been facing immense change since new owner, billionaire Elon Musk, took over the social media company. Some of the changes include reinstating accounts that have been earlier banned, firing thousands of the company’s employees and what is most astounding, bringing to light Twitter’s collaboration with “connected actors” to delete or ban accounts unfavourable to the powers that be.
Mr Musk gave access to Twitter’s internal communications to journalist Matt Taibbi, simultaneously allowing him to share his findings publicly. What ensued was a 41-Tweet thread from Taibbi, focusing on Twitter’s collaboration with the U.S. Democratic party - “The Twitter Files”.
Matt Taibbi’s report starts with a short account of what Twitter was intended to be and how slowly, as the moderation powers of Twitter staff grew, the main goal of the company became stained with overreaching moderation.
1. Thread: THE TWITTER FILES— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 2, 2022
8. By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: “More to review from the Biden team.” The reply would come back: “Handled.” pic.twitter.com/mnv0YZI4af— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 2, 2022
Taibbi’s further findings reveal that Twitter executives responsible for banning the story did so referring to Twitter’s “Hacked Material Policy”. However, as a former Twitter employee states “Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it.”
18. Twitter took extraordinary steps to suppress the story, removing links and posting warnings that it may be “unsafe.” They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography.— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022
However, Taibbi stressed that these decisions were made “without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey”. In turn, former head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde played “a key role”.
24. “They just freelanced it,” is how one former employee characterized the decision. “Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it.”— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022
The journalists further detailed communications going on between Twitter higher-ups and some concerned parties.
23. The decision was made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with former head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde playing a key role.— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022