New ‘Twitter Files’ Shows How Federal, State Governments Monitor Americans’ Social Media Posts
FBI investigators arrive at the home of suspected nightclub shooter Ian David Long on November 8 2018, in Thousand Oaks, California. - The gunman who killed 12 people in a crowded California country music bar has been identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a former Marine, the local sheriff said Thursday. The suspect, who was armed with a .45-caliber handgun, was found deceased at the Borderline Bar and Grill, the scene of the shooting in the city of Thousand Oaks northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
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A new drop in “The Twitter Files” series Friday afternoon shows that federal law enforcement officials were working in close contact with employees at Twitter to censor content.

Journalist Matt Taibbi said that between January 2020 and November 2022, then-Twitter Senior Director of Trust & Safety Yoel Roth had exchanged more than 150 emails with the FBI.

“A surprisingly high number are requests by the FBI for Twitter to take action on election misinformation, even involving joke tweets from low-follower accounts,” Taibbi said. “The FBI’s social media-focused task force, known as FTIF, created in the wake of the 2016 election, swelled to 80 agents and corresponded with Twitter to identify alleged foreign influence and election tampering of all kinds.”

“Federal intelligence and law enforcement reach into Twitter included the Department of Homeland Security, which partnered with security contractors and think tanks to pressure Twitter to moderate content,” he continued.

Taibbi noted that the newest documents discovered throughout the course of the investigation showed that the FBI and DHS were “regularly sending social media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation.”

Taibbi showed examples of the FBI reaching out to get action taken on specific tweets:

Stacia Cardille, then-director and associate general counsel for Twitter’s global policy legal team, emailed then-Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker saying that she was having regular meetings with the FBI, DOJ, DHS, and ODNI about election threats.

Other internal company emails showed employees processing a list of tweets that were flagged by the FBI for “possible violative content”:

The FBI also shared DHS bulletins with Twitter about threats related to U.S. elections.

“The ubiquity of the 2016 Russian interference story as stated pretext for building out the censorship machine can’t be overstated,” Taibbi wrote. “It’s analogous to how 9/11 inspired the expansion of the security state.”

Taibbi said that the volume of tweets flagged the FBI was so great that Twitter employees congratulated each other in internal company communications for the “monumental undertaking” of reviewing them.

Taibbi also revealed that there were multiple channels that government can submit information to Twitter about content.

The state of California also reached out and demanded to know why the company did not take action on a tweet from then-President Donald Trump.

Taibbi said that one takeaway from his report was that “what most people think of as the ‘deep state’ is really a tangled collaboration of state agencies, private contractors, and (sometimes state-funded) NGOs,” adding, “the lines become so blurred as to be meaningless.”

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