Elon Musk released the ‘Twitter Files’ revealing top-level confidential conversations among former Twitter executives. The Files throw light on a particular instance from 2020, related to US President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Elon Musk counted down to the ‘expose’ a few hours before it was released exclusively on Twitter. The new Twitter chief led the conversation to the official account of Matt Taibbi who published ‘the first installment in a series, based upon thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter’ aka Twitter files.
Taibbi, the author of Twitter Files called it “a Frankensteinian tale of a human-built mechanism grown out of the control of its designer.”
Part 1 of Twitter Files reveals the conversations around the censorship of a story published in the New York Post. The report spilled details about the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop.
1. Thread: THE TWITTER FILES— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 2, 2022
Taibbi claimed that the social media company has taken some extraordinary steps to suppress the story from The New York Post. The censorship involved removing links and posting warnings calling it “unsafe.” In his tweet, Taibbi said, “They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography.”
Taibbi posted screengrabs of conversations between some of the former Twitter executives including names like former policy head Vijaya Gadde and former Trust and safety chief Yoel Roth. There’s clear discord between some executives regarding the policy behind the censorship of The New York Post story on Hunter Biden.
The suppression and censorship of the story attracted a lot of criticism from the White House Office that was occupied by Donald Trump. Taibbi said, “White House spokeswoman Kaleigh McEnany was locked out of her account for tweeting about the story, prompting a furious letter from Trump campaign staffer Mike Hahn.”
Twitter Public policy executive Caroline Strom showed some signs of concern regarding the censorship of the post and the details around it. Taibbi tweeted, “Caroline Strom to send out a polite WTF query. Several employees noted that there was tension between the comms/policy teams, who had little/less control over moderation, and the safety/trust teams.”
The policy team at Twitter responded to Strom’s comment by claiming that the story went against the company’s “hacked materials” policy. Taibbi revealed the decisions were taken at the highest levels of the company without former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey’s knowledge. He wrote, “The decision was made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with the former head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde playing a key role.”
Taibbi even quoted a former employee saying, “They just freelanced it. 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.”
Another screengrab reveals Roth’s rationale behind the decision to censor and suppress the post. According to one of the chats leaked by Taibbi, Roth said, “The policy basis is hacked materials - though, as discussed, this is an emerging situation where the facts remain unclear. Given the SEVERE risks here and lessons of 2016, we're erring on the side of including a warning and preventing this content from being amplified.”
The entire thread also reveals messages/emails from the US politicians concerned about the state of ‘free-speech’ and the kind of authority commanded by ‘big tech’ companies warning that the ‘government may need to intervene.’
Elon Musk responded to the entire thread by saying “Handled”, referring to the term used by Twitter employees for removing some posts. This is not the end of Twitter Files, according to Musk. Part 2 of Twitter Files will be released tomorrow.
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