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The FBI defended its actions in the face of fierce criticism rising from “The Twitter Files,” which revealed contacts between the bureau and Twitter executives.
The statement follows disclosures showing the government warning Twitter employees about foreign election interference campaigns — after which the bombshell story about Hunter Biden’s laptop from the New York Post was censored by Twitter — the bureau pressuring Twitter for access to user data, and the FBI paying $3.4 million to cover the costs of processing the agency’s processing requests.
“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,” the FBI said, per Fox News.
“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 statement added. “The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”
🚨BREAKING: The FBI responds to @elonmusk releasing the Twitter files:
"It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency." pic.twitter.com/U18JYkNptV
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 21, 2022
“The Twitter Files” have been released across several installments by multiple journalists over the past few weeks. Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who completed his $44 billion purchase of Twitter in late October, has promoted their release.
“Part Six” showed instances in which the FBI agents communicated with Twitter content moderators, flagging posts that allegedly violated Twitter’s policies against election misinformation. As noted by journalist Matt Taibbi, who shared this installment, there was a “surprisingly high number” of requests from the FBI including those “involving joke tweets from low-follower accounts.”
An ensuing thread by author Michael Shellenberger on Monday showed a February 2021 email to FBI general counsel-turned-top Twitter lawyer James Baker which spoke of $3.4 million paid to the platform as reimbursement for a “legal process response” from the FBI since October 2019.
In response to this thread, Musk himself tweeted, “Government paid Twitter millions of dollars to censor info from the public.” That claim is disputed, including by Mike Masnick in his Techdirt blog.
Government paid Twitter millions of dollars to censor info from the public https://t.co/eSEwcZlGjt
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2022
Musk fired Baker after prior disclosures showed Baker’s involvement in discussions about whether reporting about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the run-up to the 2020 election fell under Twitter’s “hacked materials” policy and should be suspended. “In light of concerns about Baker’s possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue, he was exited from Twitter today,” Musk tweeted.