‘This is insane.’ New round of Twitter Files drills down on CIA, FBI, DoD ‘dizzying’ amount of meddling in free speech

The latest “Twitter Files” dropped just in time for Christmas and, as journalist Matt Taibbi demonstrated how the FBI wasn’t the only agency working on censorship and how Twitter wasn’t the only tech company involved, as one user put it, “This is insane.”

By this point, the release of internal communications from Twitter has clearly shown how pervasive the bureau’s influence had been in moderating content on the social media platform to suit the desired narrative. As previously reported, the agency responded to accusations of impropriety, not with a denial, but with derision, and claimed, “It is unfortunate that conspiracy theories and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”

Saturday, Taibbi fired back with a thread on “OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCIES” that lead many to conclude, “The FBI and CIA are directly meddling in all the tech companies to control the speech of regular Americans,” and after imparting the need to review the whole thing, “This is insane.”

Directly reacting to the FBI, the journalist wrote, “They must think us unambitious, if our ‘sole aim’ is to discredit the FBI. After all, a whole range of government agencies discredit themselves in the #TwitterFiles. Why stop with one?” before adding, “The files show the FBI acting as doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government — from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA.”

To provide scope on the extensive network which Taibbi contended “is far bigger than the reported 80 members of the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), which also facilitates requests from a wide array of smaller actors — from local cops to media to state governments,” he pointed to communications that showed Twitter employees, “tweeps,” couldn’t even keep straight which agencies they were meeting with on a day-to-day basis. “It was dizzying.”

After explaining that some communications contained the abbreviation “OGA,” short for other government agency, which was considered a “euphemism for CIA,” Taibbi showed how readily inconspicuousness was abandoned as emails between senior legal executive Stacia Cardille and former FBI lawyer and then-Deputy General Counsel for Twitter Jim Baker show their team involved with conferences with federal agencies as she wrote, “I invited the FBI and I believe that the CIA will virtually attend too.”

“The government was in constant contact not just with Twitter but with virtually every major tech firm,” Taibbi continued. “These included Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest, and many others. Industry players also held regular meetings without government.”

What’s more, as the journalist shared greater examples about the extent of the FBI’s requests to moderate domestic content despite their claims to be working toward expelling foreign influences, he revealed that certain pushback from the social media company had resulted in “government partners…becoming more aggressive on attribution.”

“Translation: ‘more aggressive’ ‘government partners,'” Taibbi explained, “had closed Twitter’s ‘window’ of independence.”

Ultimately, Taibbi concluded the thread: “The line between ‘misinformation’ and ‘distorting propaganda’ is thin. Are we comfortable with so many companies receiving so many reports from a ‘more aggressive’ government?” and further clarified, “The CIA has yet to comment on the nature of its relationship to tech companies like Twitter. Twitter had no input into anything I did or wrote. The searches were carried out by third parties, so what I saw could be limited,” before suggesting upcoming “Twitter Files” would cover COVID-19 and “Twitter’s relationship to congress.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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