Twitter 2.0 – Part 2, the Twitter Files (non-Covid)

As promised by Elon Musk upon his acquisition of Twitter, in early December 2022 thus began a gradual reveal of internal Twitter communications between senior staff and externally between key Twitter executives and government agencies on a variety of topics at the heart of the tumultuous political environment during and after Donald Trump’s Presidency. So far there have been 15 releases of Tweet threads dubbed the “Twitter Files”, many with embedded documents such as emails and internal Slack communications with the most recent beginning to examine files regarding Covid issues. You can find a link to each File release hyperlinked from the File number in the title of each section. Since Musk has promised to release so-called “Fauci Files” and, given the prominence of Covid (and responses to it) globally, plus given the depth of the releases on other matters to date, there will undoubtedly be a stream of Covid-related Twitter file releases over the coming weeks that I will attempt to summarise in a 3rd Post once it looks like that subject has been exhausted. The bios of each of the contributors to the Twitter files are covered in Part 1.

File #1 and 1A – Hunter Biden Laptop – Matt Taibbi

The very first release concerned the highly controversial decision by Twitter to block the New York Post from disseminating its blockbuster stories regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop. As a refresher, around April 2019, then former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter left two laptops to be repaired with a computer repair shop owned John Paul Mac Isaac in Wilmington, Delaware. One of the laptops was never picked up and, after attempts by the repair shop owner to contact Hunter to pay for and retrieve the laptop, based on the repairer’s terms and conditions, the laptop became his property to dispose of to defray the costs of repair. Mr. Isaac extracted the hard drive, repaired it and began to view its contents and became alarmed by what he found. The contents were described as detailing Hunter’s seemingly corrupt business dealings in the Ukraine and China, the extent to which he traded off his famous father’s name for great financial advantage, the extent to which his father knew of and profited from such transactions and even more disturbingly, evidence of criminal sexual conduct with a minor within the extended Biden family. The implications of such material in the run up to the 2020 Presidential election contest between Joe Biden and incumbent President Trump were obvious. Mac Isaac gave a copy to the Delaware State Police and the FBI who both sat on the explosive information for over a year such that eventually, Isaac passed a copy of the hard drive to Rudi Giuliani, then one of Donald Trump’s private attorneys. The contents of the laptop made its way to the New York Post, one the oldest and largest conservative leaning newspapers in the US.

The New York Post published its findings in its print edition on October 14, 2020 and across its social media platforms, the most potent of which was Twitter. Very quickly the Biden campaign dismissed the contents of the laptop as hacked material as part of a supposed Russian disinformation campaign and pretty soon the mainstream media moved in lock step with this explanation. Twitter was persuaded to limit then block the dissemination of the New York Post’s article on its platform at first by de-emphasing the NYP’s Post and issuing a warning then limiting how it could be re-tweeted and commented on and then blocking the ability to direct message a link to the post (something normally Twitter only did in cases of child pornography) and finally deleting the post and blocking all mention of it across its entire platform by locking the accounts of anyone who mentioned it effectively helping kill the story. What this first Twitter file release shows is the decision to block the story was the subject of intense internal debate. Former VP of Global Comms Brandon Borrman asks, “Can we truthfully claim this is part of the policy?” and that the ultimate decision to block was a tortuous interpretation of their “hacked material” policy and made without the authorization of then Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Here was a reputable and venerable newspaper making claims of viewing material from the son of the man running for President (who was also partly implicated) of an explosive nature just 2 weeks before the election, an election that Biden won by an aggregate of the tiny margin of only 85,000 votes across 4 key battleground states and the world’s most politically influential social media company decides to throttle then kill all mention of the story!

Polling done by the Media Research Center has shown that some 16% of people who voted for Biden, had they known about the contents of Hunter’s laptop prior to the election, may have changed their vote. Here was a ‘October surprise’ of the type even bigger than that which almost cost George W Bush the 2000 election (the 11th hour revelation of his DUI) that could be easily characterised as swinging the election. Of course since the election, not only has Hunter Biden’s laptop material been verified (and can be viewed in its entirety here via Marco Polo) but various Democrat friendly media outlets such as the NY Times and Washington Post have admitted the Russian disinformation story was a hoax and that the laptop is real. The 51 former intelligence officers who attested to the Russian disinformation cover story have proven to have been most economical with truth. Recently one has admitted he knew it was a false story all along but lied anyway, all undoubtedly to help Biden beat Trump.

In a supplemental entitled File 1A, Taibbi revealed how he was initially blocked from viewing critical internal communications by Twitter lead counsel Jim Baker, a well-known Washington swamp creature who was using his power as chief company attorney to block Taibbi’s access to the most sensitive material. When this was revealed, Musk publicly fired Baker thus paving the way for File #2.

File #2 – Twitter’s Secret Blacklists – Bari Weiss

This file reveals exactly how Twitter throttled high profile conservatives and lockdown skeptics. Weiss showed how Twitter used “visibility filtering” to emasculate the reach of top right-leaning account holders. Dan Bongino was subject to a search blacklist, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya was subject to a “Trends Blacklist” and Charlie Kirk was hit with “Do Not Amplify”.

File #3 – The throttling of Donald Trump – Matt Taibbi

Twitter’s Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth not only met regularly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, but with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Also, Twitter was aggressively applying “visibility filtering” tools to Trump well before the election.

File #4 – Trump and the run up to January 6 – Michael Shellenberger

Shellenberger outlines how right after January 6, 2021 (the protests at the Capitol that ended in people entering the building and disrupting the 2020 election Electoral College certification process), Twitter staff were contorting themselves in knots trying to find ways to bend their policies to justify suspending President Donald Trump. Various employees questioned the wisdom of censoring such a prominent world leader.

File #5 – Removal of Donald Trump – Bari Weiss

Despite widespread loathing of Trump by most Twitter staff, saner heads were struggling to see how his famous Tweet on January 6 (see below) could be seen as incitement to violence, the reason given for Trump’s Twitter ban. A staff member originally from China says, “I deeply understand how censorship can destroy the public conversation”. Senior staff proceeded to find a way anyway, justifying the removal due to Trump’s “Banality of Evil”.

File #6 – Twitter and the FBI – Matt Taibbi

These files reveal the shocking extent to which the FBI surveilled ordinary Americans’ activity on Twitter and sent lists of ‘offending’ accounts for Twitter to take action against (throttle, suspend or ban). The FBI became a clearing house for other Federal Government agencies and entities who channeled a vast array of requests to “bounce” or moderate content including DHS (Department of Homeland Security) agency CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) and the left leaning so-called Election Integrity Project. Twitter staff were processing such a massive volume of these requests that the FBI’s San Francisco office (where this surveillance activity was run from) sent a memo congratulating Twitter staff on successfully completing such a “monumental undertaking”.

File #7 – The FBI and Hunter Biden’s Laptop – Michael Shellenberger

These files focus specifically on the mode of communication between the FBI and Twitter over the NY Post revelations about Hunter Biden’s laptop and contains two shocking revelations: first, that the key FBI agent (Elvis Chan) overseeing the relationship with Twitter used the FBI’s special secured portal called Teleporter (used to transmit classified documents) to transmit moderation requests to Twitter’s Head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth and secondly, that the FBI compensated Twitter for its time taken to action the FBI’s gagging requests to the tune of over $3 million!

File #8 – Twitter’s role in spreading Pentagon PsyOps – Lee Fang

This is the first appearance of Lee Fang as part of the journalist contingent examining Twitter’s files and he takes a detour into an entirely different but nonetheless illegal operation conducted by the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) based out of Qatar. This was to use social media to manipulate public opinion with respect the Arab world by amplifying over 50 fake accounts as directed by the Pentagon. Senior US military commanders testified dishonestly to Congress that no such operations existed.

File #9 – Twitter et al and other Government agencies – Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi reveals the involvement of Twitter (and other social media companies) with other Federal government agencies in joint suppression of free speech operations. CIA officials attended a conference on the subject at Twitter HQ in the summer of 2020. Regular industry briefings were held also with Facebook in conjunction with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The FBI and the “Foreign Influence Task Force” met regularly “not just with Twitter, but with Yahoo, Twitch, Cloudfare, LinkedIn, even Wikimedia.”

Files #11 and 12 – How the FBI became the “Other Agency” coordinator into Twitter – Matt Taibbi

As the so-called Russia gate controversy mushroomed from August 2017, Twitter came under pressure from Congress then the State Department to moderate what were seen at the time as Russian driven social media accounts. The FBI agreed to become the focal portal for such requests with Special Agent Chan describing the FBI’s operations in this regard as the “belly button” for all requests from the US IC (Intelligence Community). The thread in File #12 shows how Twitter took in requests from everyone — Treasury, HHS (Health and Human Services), NSA (National Security Agency), FBI, DHS and more and, shockingly, also received personal requests from politicians like Democratic congressman Adam Schiff who asked Twitter to suspend journalist Paul Sperry, which they duly did! Paul Sperry’s crime was to publish and support the so-called Devin Nunes memo (the former Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee until the GOP lost the House in 2018) about the whole Russia gate situation, a conclusion that, over time, proved to be correct and that Adam’s Schiff’s assertions that Trump was influenced by Russia were false.

File #14 – Russia gate Lies – Matt Taibbi

A unified Democrat (and sympathetic MSM) cry was that the 2016 election was unduly influenced by Russia and that this was done to benefit Trump. An influential liberal think tank called Hamilton 68 claimed that their investigations unearthed a myriad of Russian controlled bot accounts on Twitter that were talking up the Nunes Memo (that refuted all the Russian gate allegations that lay at the heart of the investigations by the Special Counsel Mueller and the subsequent first Trump impeachment). These allegations were amplified by senior Democrat politicians such as California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and then Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff and were spread like wildfire across the entire mainstream media spectrum as well as many influential commentators and publications and even to so-called “Fact Checkers” such as PolitiFact and Snopes. Twitter’s staff reverse engineered these 600 odd supposed Russian influence/bot accounts and found that, with the exception of a small number of Russia Today accounts (RT is Russia’s primary English language media outlet in the West), all the remainder of these accounts belonged to ordinary Americans and even Brits merely giving private opinions on the Nunes memo and were never Russian controlled bots. All three Democrat politicians were told by Twitter staff that the Hamilton 68 files they were citing as evidence were NOT Russian bots and yet they persisted with the fiction anyway and allowed this misinformation to spread across the media landscape to help fuel a false narrative that Trump was supported by Russia.

In a supplemental to these files, Taibbi revealed that on ten occasions, Adam Schiff and his office demanded that Twitter ban or “deamplify” the accounts of anyone critical of him and his role as Intelligence Committee Chair, any criticism of the Steele dossier and of attempts to dox the whistleblower in the Ukrainian phone call issue that became the main reason for the first Trump impeachment.

Please note: Files #9, 10 and 13 are all Covid related and will be covered in Part 3 in the future.


For some time it was apparent to most on the right that social media platforms skewered in favour of left leaning parties and candidates and towards liberal and progressive causes and policies and tilted against parties and candidates on the right and the causes and policies of a conservative hew and most particularly against President Trump and the conservative media and commentators most supportive of him. The release of the Twitter files not only dramatically confirmed these biases but demonstrate the extent to which Twitter actively put its thumb on the scales of public opinion to achieve this end. For years its staff engaged in the systematic suppression of the posts of right leaning politicians, commentators and ordinary people in a way that most definitely infringed on the protections of free speech enshrined in the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. But far more insidious and dangerous was the revelation that major organs of the Federal Government were complicit in these activities devoting staff time and resources to the task of suppressing conservative voices and shockingly, that US taxpayers’ own money was used by the FBI to pay one of the world’s most influential social media platforms to muzzle the views of its own citizens expressing their First Amendment right of free speech!

In the specific case of the suppression of the New York Post and its attempts to advise the world of the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, here was a supposed free speech platform doing the bidding of the supporters of a candidate for President in killing an explosive story detrimental to that candidate in the dying weeks of the 2020 Presidential Election campaign that, had the story had unrestricted dissemination, the nature of the allegations were such that they highly likely would’ve influenced the outcome of the election. Over 125 million Americans voted in the 2020 election and Biden’s aggregate winning margin in 4 key states was a measly 85,000 votes or 0.068%. The actions of Twitter, at the behest of senior supposedly neutral public servants in law enforcement and intelligence agencies, has not only stifled free speech but played a crucial role in the outcome of an election. Twitter’s lead role as the shaper of mainstream media and public opinion and narratives ensured that false narratives favourable to Democrats and detrimental to conservatives were able to dominate print and broadcast media and other social media in a way to move public opinion in favour of only one ideological side of the hotly contested political divide. We have not heard the end of this as the material revealed in the Twitter files was confirmed in recent hearings before the now Republican controlled House Oversight and Accountability Committee where former Twitter executives faced the wrath of Congresswomen who themselves had been censured or suspended. There likely will be some regulatory and even legal repercussions for Twitter’s actions going forward. The GOP controlled House has already issued subpoenas to Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Meta (parent to Facebook and Instagram) and Alphabet (parent to Google and You Tube) for all documents on “collusion with the government to suppress free speech” The Twitter Files on just this subject alone has only just begun to open Pandora’s box and it’s not going to end well for the social media companies who engaged in this suppression.

As we move to another matter that became the subject of intense debate in most first world countries, that of the various responses to the Covid pandemic, it will be interesting to see how much Twitter again put their thumb on the scales of public discourse on the issue of lockdowns and C19 treatments. Watch this space!

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