Journalist identifies and exposes key takeaway of Twitter Files
Matt Taibbi is the independent journalist who revealed the Twitter Files after Elon Musk took over the company. Taibbi talks about the Twitter Files and what’s been going on over at Twitter behind closed doors. Matt was talking with Maria Bartiromo during the interview.
Here’s a partial transcript of the video from Fox News:
MATT TAIBBI: I think the major revelation of the Twitter files so far is that we’ve discovered an elaborate bureaucracy of what you might call public-private censorship. Basically companies like Twitter have a system by which they receive ten tens of thousands of requests for action on various accounts. Typically through the DHS and FBI, but these requests for coming from basically every department in the government. We’ve seen them from the HHS, from the Treasury, from the DOD, even from the CIA. And they will send basically long lists of accounts in excel spreadsheet files and ask for action on those accounts.
And in many cases, Twitter is complying.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Yeah, we’ve been talking about the fact that the if FBI had a task force of 80 agents or 80 people at at the FBI who were tasked with just dealing with social media, but it was many more than that, right? You’re estimating up to a thousand people throughout government?
MATT TAIBBI: Right, because that foreign influence task force only refers to the people in the FBI, DHS and the Director of National Intelligence office. But actually, this includes people in a variety of agencies both federal and state. We’ve seen requests from basically all 50 states, most of those go through DHS to Twitter. So I would estimate that personnel somewhere between 500-1,000 people just based on what we’ve seen so far. It may be more than that.
We found one incredible e-mail from former FBI general counsel Jim Baker, reporter Michael Shellenberger found this, and it’s essentially celebrating that the FBI had paid $3.4 million for, quote-unquote, “processing requests.”
So, in other words, all those requests that were coming through to Twitter, and we see all the e-mail traffic talking about what a burden it was for the company to process all of these requests, that’s what the money was for. For them to look at all these requests for content moderation and censorship that were coming from all these different agencies.
As I was reading these tens of thousands of e-mails, we would put them into different buckets. So this might be a First Amendment issue over here, this might be a Revolving Door question over here, but then over here we had a bucket called Improper Asks. And there you might see something like the FBI asking for user identification or IP addresses or handles. And in some cases, even things like geolocation of individual accounts. Now, the problem is we don’t always see the other side of these transactions, but we can definitely see the government asking for these things. So these are things that are, they’re not entitled to, usually without a subpoena, or without a warrant, but they’re asking for them anyway because they have a very close relationship with these companies. And in some cases, we’re not talking about a few accounts, they’re talking about thousands of accounts where they’re asking for information. I think this is very dangerous.
They would go to their friends in the corporate press, and Twitter would be hammered by, you know, mainstream press organizations would say basically Twitter is not doing enough to combat foreign interference. As you know, because you were reporting on it at time, Congressman Devin Nunes got an extraordinary amount of abuse because it was claimed that the hashtag “release the memo” was boosted by Russian bots. But we now know based on stuff we’ve seen internally that there were no Russian bots, and these e-mails that Twitter was actually telling senators like Richard Blumenthal, don’t do it, you’re going to look foolish, and they did it anyway.
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