Tag Archive for: twitter files

‘Dirty Tricks Campaign’: Elon Musk Is Battling Biden Admin As Investigations Pile Up Since Twitter Takeover

  • Billionaire Elon Musk is confronting numerous investigations launched by President Joe Biden’s administration, many of which have occurred since he acquired social media platform Twitter — now X — under a year ago, and released documents revealing censorship by the previous regime.
  • Musk has criticized the Democratic Party and exposed left-wing censorship through the release of the “Twitter Files.”  
  • “In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party,” Musk posted on X in May 2022, while still in the process of purchasing the platform. “But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican. Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold.”

Billionaire Elon Musk has faced an investigative onslaught from President Joe Biden’s administration since he acquired social media platform Twitter — now X — less than a year ago, and exposed censorship against conservatives by his predecessors.

The billionaire has condemned the Democratic party and exposed left-wing censorship, including from Biden himself. The president encouraged investigations into Musk soon after he assumed control of X in October: Musk is currently the owner or CEO of X, Tesla and SpaceX, all of which have faced investigations from the Biden administration since his takeover of the social media platform.

“In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party,” Musk posted on X in May 2022, while still in the process of purchasing the platform. “But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican. Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold.”

Shortly following Musk’s acquisition of X, Biden said that Musk’s relationships with foreign governments warranted investigation.  “I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries … is worthy of being looked at, whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that,” Biden said in November. “I’m suggesting that [it’s] … worth being looked at … that’s all I’ll say.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has investigated the company’s alleged lack of adherence to a 2022 administrative order related to privacy, and depositions “revealed a chaotic environment at the company that raised serious questions about whether and how Musk and other leaders were ensuring X Corp.’s compliance,” according to a September Department of Justice (DOJ) filing. This violation could lead to fines for the company, according to The Washington Post.

The FTC has also issued over 350 solicitations for information from X since Musk took over, including the social media platform’s work with journalists, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asserted in July. Musk enabled journalists to release batches of internal documents from X which precede his takeover, called the “Twitter Files,” revealing that Biden campaign staff flagged posts related to his son Hunter for the company to censor.

Before Musk took over, X censored the Hunter Biden laptop story published by the New York Post in the month before the 2020 election, preventing people from sharing the link both publicly and privately. Former executives now regret suppressing the story.

“You’ve asked for every single communication relating to Elon Musk, not communications that he just sent to someone or communications he received, but any time he’s mentioned,” Jordan said. “More than harassment, that seems like almost an obsession.”

Furthermore, the DOJ and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are also investigating Musk’s electric car company Tesla’s alleged allocation of funds toward a discrete project, rumored to be construction of a glass house for its CEO, The Wall Street Journal reported in August.

The alleged project is internally called “Project 42” and involves the construction of an expansive glass building in the vicinity of Austin, Texas, according to the WSJ. “I’m not building a house of any kind, let alone a glass one!” Musk posted on X.

Moreover, Musk’s SpaceX is currently under investigation by the DOJ for alleged discrimination over its hiring policies, according to an August filing. The DOJ accused SpaceX of discrimination against people seeking asylum and refugees by not hiring them.

The U.S. mandates employees to have “at least a green card” due to rockets’ classification as “advanced weapons technology,” Musk posted on X, However, this is inaccurate, according to the lawsuit.

Musk was recently asked on a podcast if the Biden administration has it out for him. “Ha. What ever gave you that idea?” Musk joked, eliciting laughter from the hosts and live audience.

“I don’t think the whole administration has it out for me,” he added. “But I think there’s probably aspects of the administration … or aspects of interests aligned with President Biden who probably do not wish good things for me.”

The White House, DOJ, Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

The FTC and SEC declined to comment.




RELATED ARTICLE: ‘Do Not Wish Good Things For Me’: Elon Musk Explains Why He Thinks The Biden Admin Could Be Out To Get Him


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The Government’s Sprawling Effort to Censor [True] Information During the Pandemic

In July 2022, Twitter permanently suspended Rhode Island physician Andrew Bostom after awarding the epidemiologist and longtime researcher at Brown University a fifth strike for spreading “misinformation.”

A July 26 tweet alleging that there was no solid evidence Covid-19 vaccines had prevented any children from being hospitalized—”only RCT data we have from children reveals ZERO hospitalizations prevented by vaccination vs. placebo”—was apparently the final straw.

The funny thing was, it appeared Bostom’s tweet was true.

Dr. Anish Koka, a cardiologist and writer, said he was initially skeptical of Bostom’s claim. But after speaking with him for more than an hour, he realized Bostom was citing the government’s own data, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) briefing document that included randomized controlled trial (RCT) data on children.

“…Dr. Bostom’s tweet appears quite correct as per the FDA documents,” Koka wrote on Substack. “In the RCTs available, there does not appear to be evidence that the vaccine prevented hospitalizations.”

Bostom’s permanent suspension was one of many anecdotes shared by journalist David Zweig in a December Twitter Files thread viewed by more than 64 million people, which exposed how the government worked with Twitter to try to “rig the Covid debate.”

It turns out this was not the only one of Bostom’s tweets that was true but was nevertheless flagged for “misinformation.”

“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,” Zweig notes. “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.”

In other words, all five of Bostom’s tweets that had been flagged as “misinformation” were legitimate. At the very least, four-out-of-five were, and that’s according to Twitter’s own internal audit.

How this happened was partially explored by Zweig, who explained Twitter’s convoluted censorship process, which relied heavily on bots, contractors in foreign countries who lacked the expertise to make informed decisions, and Twitter brass who carried their own biases and incentives. This structure led to a predictable result.

“In my review of internal files,” writes Zweig, “I found countless instances of tweets labeled as ‘misleading’ or taken down entirely, sometimes triggering account suspensions, simply because they veered from CDC guidance or differed from establishment views.”

The CDC had effectively become the arbiter of truth.

This is alarming for at least two reasons. First, for anyone familiar with the government’s track record on truth, there’s reason to be skeptical of putting any government agency in charge of deciding what is true and false. Second, the CDC has been, to put it kindly, fallible throughout the pandemic. Indeed, the agency has been plagued with so much dysfunction and made so many crucial mistakes that its own director announced less than a year ago the organization needed an overhaul.

So there’s some reason to believe that Bostom and people like him—including epidemiologists like Dr. Martin Kuldorff (formerly of Harvard) and mRNA vaccine creator Dr. Robert Malone—were being suspended, banned, and de-amplified simply because Twitter was poorly situated to determine what was true and what was false.

There’s reason to doubt this claim, however.

Months after Zweig published his report on the Twitter Files, journalist Matt Taibbi published a separate deep dive exploring the Virality Project, an initiative launched by Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center.

The project, which Taibbi described as “a sweeping, cross-platform effort to monitor billions of social media posts by Stanford University, federal agencies, and a slew of (often state-funded) NGOs,” is noteworthy because officials made it clear that a goal was not just to flag false information, but information that was true but inconvenient to the government’s goals. Reports of “vaccinated individuals contracting Covid-19 anyway,” “worrisome jokes,” and “natural immunity” were all characterized as “potential violations,” as were conversations “interpreted to suggest that coronavirus might have leaked from a lab.”

In what Taibbi describes as “a pan-industry monitoring plan for Covid-related content,” the Virality Project began analyzing millions of posts each day from platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Medium, TikTok, and other social media sites, which were submitted through the JIRA ticketing system. On February 22, 2021, in a video no longer public, Stanford welcomed social media leaders to the group and offered instruction on how to join the JIRA system.

In contrast to Twitter’s previous internal guidance, which required narratives on Covid-19 to be “demonstrably false” before any censorship actions were taken, the Virality Project made it clear that information that was true was also fair game if it undermined the larger aims of the government and the Virality Project.

Specifically noted were “true stories that could fuel [vaccine] hesitancy,” personal testimonials about adverse side effects of vaccination, concerns over vaccine passports, and actual deaths of people following vaccination, such as Drene Keyes.

As NBC noted in 2021, Keyes, a 58-year-old black woman, died after receiving the Pfizer vaccine in February 2021. Described as an “elderly Black woman” by the Virality Project, Keyes’s death became a “disinformation” event after it garnered attention from “anti vax groups”—even though no one denied that she died within hours of taking the vaccine.

No autopsy was conducted on Keyes and there’s no way of knowing if the vaccine caused her death. But merely raising the possibility could have resulted in a ban. Officials at the Virality Project warned platforms that “just asking questions”—at least the wrong questions—was a tactic “commonly used by spreaders of misinformation.”

Ironically, Taibbi notes, the Virality Project itself was often “extravagantly wrong” about Covid science, describing breakthrough events as “extremely rare events” (a fact it later conceded was wrong) and implying that natural immunity did not offer protection from Covid.

“Even in its final report, [the Virality Project] claimed it was misinformation to suggest the vaccine does not prevent transmission, or that governments are planning to introduce vaccine passports,” Taibbi writes. “Both things turned out to be true.”

‘You Can’t Handle the Truth’

It’s clear that the Virality Project’s primary purpose was not to protect Americans from misinformation. Its goal, as Taibbi notes, was to get the public to submit to authority and accept the state’s Covid narrative, particularly the pronouncements of public figures such as Drs. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky.

The official policy can be summed up in the immortal words of Colonel Nathan Jessup, the villain portrayed by Jack Nicholson in Aaron Sorkin’s popular 1992 film A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth.”

It’s important to understand that public officials, just like Col. Jessup, genuinely believe this. Jessup utters these words in anger in a wonderful monologue, after he is baited by Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) into telling the court how he really feels. Similarly, the Twitter Files reveal a program designed to control information—even true information—because it serves the state’s plan.

The last word—plan—is important, because it calls to mind Ludwig von Mises’s warning about those seeking to plan society.

“The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans,” Mises wrote. “He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute preeminence of his own plan.”

‘Sometimes They Are Five’

Mises’ words apply perfectly to the Virality Project, a program designed specifically to get people to submit to the government’s narrative and objectives, not their own. The preeminence of the plan is so important that it requires censoring information and targeting individuals—as the Virality Project did—even if it’s true.

It’s difficult to overstate how Orwellian this is.

In Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith, the protagonist of the story, says, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four.”

Absent any context, the quote doesn’t make much sense. But it’s important to understand that Orwell saw statism and politics as forces destructive to the truth. His own brushes with state propaganda during the Spanish Civil War left him terrified that objective truth was “fading out of the world,” and he saw the state as inherently prone to obfuscation and euphemism (regardless of party).

“Political language,” he wrote, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Within the context of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the meaning of Winston Smith’s words becomes crystal clear. Saying “two plus two makes four” might be an objective truth, but sometimes objective truth runs counter to Big Brother’s plan. Winston Smith is a slow learner, state agents tell him, because he can’t seem to grasp this simple reality.

“How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”

“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder.”

Many people who lived through the Covid-19 pandemic likely can identify with the terror of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Orwell’s fear that objective truth is “fading out of the world.” We witnessed public officials say things that were demonstrably false and face no consequences, while Andrew Bostom and countless others were exiled from public discourse because they said things that were true, but ran counter to the state’s narrative.

Fortunately, in large part because of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, we now know how this happened.

“Government, academia, and an oligopoly of would-be corporate competitors organized quickly behind a secret, unified effort to control political messaging,” Taibbi writes.

All of it was designed to control information. And in doing so, the state—which actually attempted to create a “Disinformation Governance Board,” which critics promptly dubbed a Ministry of Truth—created an environment hostile to free speech and truth.

Ironically, despite the egregious abuse delivered upon the truth over the last three years in the name of fighting “misinformation,” polls show roughly half of Americans believe social media companies should be censoring such material from their sites. Few seem to realize this will almost certainly involve those with influence and power—especially the government—deciding who and what are censored.

This is a recipe for disaster. History shows there’s no greater purveyor of falsehood and propaganda than the government itself. The Twitter Files are a reminder of that.


Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. (Follow him on Substack.) His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Sen. Rick Scott Grills Mayorkas On All The Times The Biden Admin Spread ‘Disinformation’

Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott held Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ feet to the fire about “disinformation” spread by President Joe Biden’s administration during a Tuesday Senate hearing.

Scott paired his questioning of Mayorkas with a large poster board that listed several topics he alleges the Biden administration has lied about including border security, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Chinese spy balloon that traversed across the country in February, according to video from the hearing.

“There’s a whole bunch of people in the Biden administration who put out false narratives. They’ve said the border’s secure, they’ve said Hunter Biden’s laptop is not real. They’ve said the Afghanistan withdrawal was successful. They’ve said the Chinese spy balloon over the United States is not a threat,” Scott listed. “All that, as we all have found out, is untrue. Now we’ve learned from the Twitter Files is that government is working with and funds NGOs to censor millions of Americans via Big Tech in direct violation of our First Amendment rights.”

Scott also pressed Mayorkas about the DHS’ involvement with digital censorship, pointing several times to the Twitter Files saga that revealed how the U.S. government worked with social media companies to censor and monitor accounts

Mayorkas pushed back that the DHS does not “censor speech” and that he wanted “to nip that misimpression in the bud,” according to the video.

“We don’t do that and, I should say, that the personnel of the Department of Homeland Security … not only have unflinching dedication to missions, but also have unflinching dedication to the law that they enforce,” he said.

“Let’s just go to the facts,” Scott said. “The Biden administration has said all those things, and now Elon Musk has been clear that the Biden administration has had access to private messages … Twitter messages.”

Scott then grilled Mayorkas about whether or not he believed the Biden administration’s claims about the several national security examples, according to the video. Mayorkas did not immediately answer the question, but denied that DHS has access to monitor private Twitter messages unless it is vital to a criminal investigation.

“I can assure you that it is not our job, nor do we do it, to censor speech. What we do is we assess the threat landscape that this country confronts so that we can secure the homeland and protect the American people,” he said. “That’s what we do, and our Office of Intelligence and Analysis has a responsibility which it fulfills to understand that threat landscape, to understand what the threats are that we face.”

Mayorkas “would be concerned” with DHS employees reading private Twitter messages outside of a criminal investigation, he told Scott while clarifying that his opinion “is not informed by the law.” Any employee who violates the law is held accountable and “do not represent the workforce of the Department of Homeland Security,” he said.

Tuesday’s hearing was held by the Committee on Homeland Security & National Affairs about the DHS’ Fiscal Year 2024 budget, according to the committee website.





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Joy Reid Calls ‘Twitter Files’ Journos ‘Shills’ For Elon Musk’s ‘Narrative’ About Censorship

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Adam Schiff’s Office Repeatedly Tried To Get Twitter To Censor Posts, Documents Show

Staffers for Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California made repeated requests for Twitter to censor and suppress posts by users on the social media platform, according to documents published Friday by independent journalist Matt Taibbi.

Schiff’s office requested complete removal of “any and all search results about [Schiff staffer Sean] Misko and other committee staffers,” a request that Twitter denied as inconceivable under its rules, according to the documents. Schiff’s staff and the Democratic National Committee asked Twitter to remove an April 26, 2020 tweet containing an edited GIF of Joe Biden sticking his tongue out after then-President Donald Trump retweeted it, something Twitter staff also denied, the documents show.

“This is a pretty clearly edited GIF created with humorous intent,” former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth wrote in an Apr. 27, 2020 email, the documents show. “Any reasonable observer could identify that it’s doctored. And there’s no nexus to harm to anyone involved. It’s not a violation of our rules.”

Nonetheless, Schiff staffer Jeff Lowenstein expressed concern that the post represented a “slippery slope,” the documents show. Lowenstein expressed concern to Twitter staff that even if the edited content in the April 26, 2020, tweet was not in violation of Twitter policy, Twitter needed to lay out clear rules so it could act quickly on “more malicious and less obvious[ly]” edited content.

Taibbi previously reported on January 3, 2023, that Schiff’s office had lobbied Twitter to ban investigative journalist Paul Sperry and remove content pertaining to Schiff staffers in a November 2020 request. Twitter initially declined to ban Sperry, although he was ultimately suspended in August 2022.

Although Twitter pushed back on requests for outright bans, it did regularly deamplify, or reduce the reach of, accounts that promoted content related to QAnon, according to the documents. While Schiff’s office “greatly appreciate[d]” the efforts to deamplify users content, it was concerned that deamplification might “inadvertently impede” law enforcement’s ability to find threats posed to Congressional staff.

Previous releases of documents, dubbed “The Twitter Files” by Twitter CEO Elon Musk and the reporting journalists, have shown an extensive and close relationship between Twitter and intelligence agencies like the FBI, which regularly queried the social media platform to remove content.

Schiff’s office did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.




RELATED ARTICLE: Adam Schiff’s Office Asked Twitter To Ban Investigative Journalist, Docs Show


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

‘Attempting To Discredit The Agency’: FBI Responds To ‘Twitter Files’

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a new statement Wednesday following the latest “Twitter Files” dump.

The FBI accused the “Twitter Files” release as an attempt “to discredit” the agency by disclosing information on the FBI’s correspondence with Twitter in October 2020. Journalist Matt Taibbi revealed that the agency warned the previous executives at Twitter of a “hack-and-leak” by “state actors” surrounding the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop to influence the 2020 presidential election.

“The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries. As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers. The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public,” the statement began.

“It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency,” the agency concluded.

The “Twitter Files” revealed that the FBI and Twitter worked closely in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election. Internal documents published Monday found that the FBI paid Twitter nearly $3.5 million between October 2019 and February 2021 for managing its financial burdens caused while complying with the agency’s requests.

Taibbi reported he found no evidence that the FBI had involvement in Twitter’s suppression of the New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden’s laptop, though new reports released by author Michael Shellenberger indicated they may have, in fact, been involved.

Former FBI Deputy General Counsel James Baker argued Twitter’s then-head of trust and safety Yoel Roth’s claim that the Post’s report did not violate the social media site’s policies on October 14, according to Shellenberger. The agency had already been in possession of Biden’s laptop since December 2019, indicating that the agency knew the Post reported the story accurately.

Musk announced Dec. 6 that he fired Baker for allegedly withholding the release of documents related to the suppression of Biden’s laptop.

The agency also flagged certain tweets for Twitter to remove from the platform, the files found. Some agents were even employed at the social media company.

Republican Kentucky Rep. James Comer, the incoming House Oversight Chair, said Tuesday that Congress should block funding of the FBI until it disclosed the alleged involvement in Big Tech censorship.

“In the beginning, I thought that there were probably two or three rogue employees who were orchestrating this cover up of the Hunter Biden laptop story, but now we know the FBI had a division of at least 80 agents,” Comer said. “We also know that the FBI paid Twitter over $3 million for their time, all the time they took over the past couple of years in telling them who to suppress, who to ban. You know, it’s just things that the government has no role in.”

“The FBI was never granted the authority to create any type of disinformation task force that policed the social media sites. Now this we know with Twitter,” he continued. “We’ve heard similar stories from Zuckerberg. Who knows what went on at YouTube and Google. This is an agency that’s out of control.”



Media reporter. Follow Nicole Silverio on Twitter @NicoleMSilverio

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘Slippery Slope’: Internal Docs Show Just One Twitter Employee Raising ‘Serious’ Free-Speech Concerns Over Trump Ban

  • In the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6, a junior staffer at Twitter was the only employee that appeared to express “serious” concerns about the effect that banning then-President Donald Trump might have on users’ speech, according to author Michael Shellenberger Friday, citing internal documents provided by CEO Elon Musk.
  • The unnamed staffer’s comments stood in contrast to other employees, who, according to former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth, were not “happy” with Twitter’s position on Trump following the riots, Shellenberger reported.
  • “This now appears to be a fiat by an online platform CEO with a global presence that can gatekeep speech for the entire world – which seems unsustainable,” the staffer wrote, Shellenberger reported.

As Twitter executives sought a justification to ban then-President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots, only one employee appears to have expressed “serious” concerns about the potential impact the move might have on users’ speech, author Michael Shellenberger tweeted Friday, citing internal Twitter documents provided by new CEO Elon Musk.

The employee, a junior staffer, posted a message in a lower-level channel on the company’s internal Slack messaging system, questioning the “one off” nature of the decision, which did not appear to match with Twitter’s public policies, according to Shellenberger. Twitter employees usually considered moderation decisions to be “one off” events when they were made at the discretion of Twitter employees, as opposed to following a particular policy, Shellenberger reported.

“This might be an unpopular opinion but one off ad hoc decisions like this that don’t appear rooted in policy are [in my opinion] a slippery slope and reflect an alternatively equally dictatorial problem,” the unnamed staffer wrote, according to Shellenberger. “This now appears to be a fiat by an online platform CEO with a global presence that can gatekeep speech for the entire world – which seems unsustainable.”

Roughly 40 minutes after the junior staffer posted their initial concerns, they sent a follow-up message, citing an article by The Washington Post’s Will Oremus, then a writer for tech publication OneZero, which noted that Facebook’s decision to indefinitely ban Trump “lacks a clear basis in any of Facebook’s previously stated policies, highlights for the millionth time that the dominant platforms are quite literally making up the rules of online speech as they go along,” Shellenberger reported.

“My concern is specifically surrounding the unarticulated logic of the decision by FB,” the staffer wrote, according to Shellenberger. “That space fills with the idea (conspiracy theory?) that all … internet moguls … sit around like kings casually deciding what people can and cannot see.”

While Twitter employees debated the decision to ban Trump, then-CEO Jack Dorsey was on vacation in French Polynesia, ultimately delegating a significant amount of the company’s actions during the crisis to former head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth and former head of Legal, Policy and Trust Vijaya Gadde, Shellenberger reported. Dorsey sent staffers an email on Jan. 7 telling employees that the company needs to maintain consistent moderation policies, according to Shellenberger. (RELATED: Twitter’s Chief Censor Met Weekly With US Intelligence Officials While Trump Was In Office, Internal Comms Reveal)

“Jack’s emails have been _fine_… but ultimately, I think people want to hear from Vijaya, or Del, or someone closer to the specifics of this who can reassure them that the people who care about this are thinking deeply about these problems and aren’t happy with where we are,” Roth messaged an unidentified employee, according to Shellenberger. “A few engineers have reached out to me directly about it, and I’m chatting with them… but it’s so clear that they just want to know that _someone_ is doing something about this, and it’s not that we’re ignoring the issues here.”

The unnamed employee responded, arguing that some employees might not understand that “while it seems obvious and simple that we ‘should’ [permanently ban] his personal account,” the company would have to wrangle with the possibility of banning Trump’s official government account as well, a decision that required “thinking things through,” Shellenberger reported.

While the company had faced pressure to block or ban Trump in the past, it typically resisted those calls; the company’s Public Policy team posted a tweet in 2018 which argued banning world leaders for “controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” and would limit discussion of that leader without meaningfully silencing them, Shellenberger reported.

Twitter did not immediately respond to request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.




RELATED ARTICLE: CAUGHT IN LIES: Latest Twitter Files Release Reveals Feds and Twitter Both Caught Lying, Hiding Evidence in Major Lawsuit; Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt Calls Them Onto the Carpet

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Twitter Had Secret ‘Blacklists’ That Suppressed Stanford Doctor, Top Conservatives, Docs Show

  • Twitter maintained secret “blacklists” that included several prominent conservative voices and a Stanford professor of health policy, limiting the spread of their content, according to journalist Bari Weiss.
  • While Twitter kept a record of some of this activity, the most sensitive, politically charged actions were typically kept off-the-books by high-ranking members of Twitter’s staff, Weiss reported.
  • “Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels,” a senior Twitter employee told Weiss. “It’s a very powerful tool.” 

Twitter kept secret “blacklists” that included a doctor at Stanford and several prominent conservative voices that suppressed their ability to be found or heard on the social media platform, according to journalist Bari Weiss, founder and editor of The Free Press and former Wall Street Journal and New York Times columnist, who launched the second chapter in Elon Musk’s so-called “Twitter Files” Thursday evening.

Weiss tweeted what appeared to be a photo of Stanford University’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of health policy, with his account being prominently marked as being under a “Trends Blacklist.” Bhattacharya was secretly blacklisted because he “argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children,” and was thus unable to trend on the platform, according to Weiss.

In addition to Bhattacharya, Twitter placed Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk under a “Do Not Amplify” notice, while right wing talk radio personality Dan Bongino, who has appeared on Alex Jones’ InfoWars, was placed under a “Search Blacklist,” according to Weiss. The practice of limiting the access or reach of users’ content, commonly referred to as “shadow banning,” is something that Twitter has denied doing in the past, and is referred to internally as “Visibility Filtering” or “VF,” Weiss reported.

“Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels,” a senior Twitter employee reportedly told Weiss. “It’s a very powerful tool.”

Twitter operated two teams that managed visibility filtering, with the lower-level team — known as the “Strategic Response Team — Global Escalation Team” — handling roughly 200 routine and recorded cases per day, Weiss reported. However, a second group, known as “Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support,” handled high-profile, politically sensitive accounts, making no record of their decisions, one Twitter employee told Weiss.

The second group included former Head of Legal, Policy and Trust Vijaya Gadde, former Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, as well as then-CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, Weiss reported.

“Think high follower account, controversial,” the twitter employee told Weiss. The employee noted that when this group was involved, “there would be no ticket or anything.”

The company’s internal slack messages showed that Roth was interested in using “deamplification” and “remediations” in order to slow the spread of viral content that the team considered to be misinformation, according to Weiss.

“We got [CEO Jack Dorsey] on board with implementing this for civic integrity in the near term, but we’re going to need to make a more robust case to get this into our repertoire of policy remediations – especially for other policy domains,” said Roth in a message to the company’s Health, Misinformation, Privacy and Identity research team, according to Weiss. “So I’d love research’s POV on that.”

After Twitter suffered a steep decline in advertising revenue following Musk’s takeover in late October, the company’s new CEO committed to fighting hateful content by reducing its visibility on the platform, in a Nov. 9 call with advertisers.

Weiss’ thread arrived six days after Matt Taibbi, contributing editor at Rolling Stone, launched “Part One” of Musk’s Twitter Files, focusing primarily on the mechanisms by which various high-level executives at twitter coordinated to suppress the spread of a New York Post article detailing a laptop owned by Hunter Biden.

Musk had initially tweeted on Dec. 2 that the second installment of the files would be released on Dec. 3, a date that he then pushed back “another day or so,” before going silent on the issue.

This is a developing story and will be updated.




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