The Twitter Files - A story of government interests inside social media

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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.

“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.’,” Taibbi wrote.

Suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story

The focal point of the Twitter Files thread was the suppression of the New York Post article “Biden Secret E-mails” published on October 14, 2020, a little over two weeks before the U.S. 2020 Presidential elections.

According to Matt Taibbi, “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.”

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.”

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”.

The journalists further detailed communications going on between Twitter higher-ups and some concerned parties.

Only the beginning

In his last Tweets, Mr Taibbi emphasised that this report was just the first part of a deep dive into Twitter’s internal communications. He stated that “there is much more to come, including answers to questions about issues like shadow-banning, boosting, follower counts, the fate of various individual accounts, and more. These issues are not limited to the political right,” he wrote.

Further information about the findings unearthed within Twitter is bound to come soon as more journalists have been granted access to the data. “The Twitter Files” are only the beginning.