Independent journalist Matt Taibbi set social media ablaze on Friday night with the release of internal Twitter documents provided to him by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk.
Taibbi described the batch of records as just the first part of the “Twitter Files.”
The first release exposed how the social media giant maneuvered behind the scenes in 2020 to justify censoring a New York Post story that would have been harmful to candidate Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
You can read Taibbi’s full thread here:
The gist: High-level Twitter employees blocked the New York Post story regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on Twitter — perhaps at the behest of the FBI. Then they scrambled to justify the move after the fact.
When the story was published, users could not post the link to it publicly, nor could they share it in private messages — a move Twitter previously reserved for child exploitation content.
Internal communications show that Twitter sought to justify the move by claiming the story violated its “hacked materials” policy, but there was no evidence that the materials were the result of hacking.
In fact, Hunter Biden’s laptop had been abandoned at a computer repair shop.
According to Taibbi, much of the internal machinations occurred without then-CEO Jack Dorsey’s knowledge. Dorsey has subsequently said the company was wrong to censor the story.
The big question here is to what extent federal law enforcement was involved in decision.
According to a sworn declaration by Twitter’s former head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, the company had weekly meetings with the FBI in the run up to the election.
In one of those meetings, Roth said the FBI warned Twitter to be on the look out for a “hack and leak” operation by a foreign nation state. Per Roth, the FBI somehow knew the operation would center on Hunter Biden.
“I was told in these meetings that the intelligence community expected that individuals associated with political campaigns would be subject to hacking attacks and that material obtained through those hacking attacks would likely be disseminated over social media platforms, including Twitter,” said Roth in a Dec. 21, 2020, declaration to the Federal Election Commission, according to NY Post reporter Miranda Devine.
“I also learned in these meetings that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden,” he said, according to the Post.
You can read Twitter’s declaration to the FEC regarding the FBI meetings here:
Twitter owner Elon Musk had earlier teased the move to publicly release internal records related to the behavior of high-level Twitter employees.
The decision to hand the records over to Taibbi, rather than a corporate media company, marks a change in the modern American media environment, with legacy institutions declining in power and relevance.
Many large media outlets, including the Washington Post and NPR, refused to report on the Hunter Biden revelations, insisting without evidence that the information on the laptop could not be verified as authentic.
The decision not to cover the information was widely panned by conservatives as exemplifying the left-wing bias of mainstream corporate media.