Latest batch of Twitter files show CIA and FBI involved in content moderation

The CIA has meddled in moderating Twitter’s internal content for years, according to the latest dispatches from Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ – which also revealed “mountains of insistent moderation demands” from the Democratic National Committee, but not of the GOP.

Two separate threads in the Elon Musk-sponsored deep dive into internal social media docs were out saturday by freelance journalist Matt Taibbi, documenting how the platform has frequently bowed to the government and political pressure.

On June 29, 2020, Taibbi shows, the FBI’s Elvis Chan — who has featured prominently in previous versions of Twitter Files — asked company executives to “invite an OGA” to an upcoming conference.

“OGA, or ‘Other Government Organization,’ may be an understatement for the CIA, according to several former intelligence officials and contractors,” Taibbi says.

A week later, Stacia Cardille, a chief legal officer at Twitter, made the link explicit.

“I have invited the FBI and the CIA will attend virtually as well,” Cardille wrote to fellow FBI — and former FBI chief counsel — James Baker on July 8, 2020. “You don’t need to attend. “

Baker, one of dozens of former FBI agents and executives in Twitter’s ranks at the time, was fired this month for interfering with Musk’s efforts to expose past corporate transgressions. company.

From then on, Taibbi writes that “regular meetings[s] of the multi-agency Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF)” – attended by Twitter and “virtually every major tech company [including] Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest and many more” – had “FBI personnel and – almost always – one or two participants marked ‘OGA’”.

“The meeting agenda almost always included, at or near the beginning, an ‘OGA briefing,’ usually on foreign issues,” Taibbi writes.

Through the FITF, US intelligence has tasked Twitter analysts with painstaking investigations into domestic Twitter accounts suspected of having nefarious foreign connections, the documents reveal – which are intensifying as the election nears presidential election in 2020, but will continue until 2022.

Twitter’s content monitors analyzed user IP data, phone numbers and even assessed whether usernames were “Russian-sounding” to confirm the government’s accusations – but often failed to do so.

Taibbi shows how a succession of intelligence reports in 2022 have worked to shape news narratives relating to Ukraine and the Russian invasion.

One such report, which lists accounts allegedly linked to Ukraine’s “neo-Nazi” propaganda, prompted Twitter to place sites highlighting Hunter Biden’s lucrative role on Busima’s board, the Ukrainian energy company, under a cloud of official suspicion.

Other reports, including one from August 2022, included “long lists of newspapers, tweets or YouTube videos” that US intelligence found guilty of “anti-Ukrainian narratives”.

“The information about the dubious origin of these accounts could be true,” writes Taibbi. “But so is at least some of the information they contain – about neo-Nazis, rights abuses in Donbass, even about our own government. Should we block this material? »

Meanwhile, a separate Taibbi thread documented that “Twitter had a clear political monoculture” – one favoring the Democrats.

Democratic Party operatives, and one staffer in particular, bombarded Twitter moderators with complaints about Republican memes and parodies in the run-up to the 2020 election.

In one instance, Twitter refused to remove an obviously comedic parody of a “Todos Con Biden” event – in which then-candidate Joe Biden allegedly played a pro-Trump song for a crowd of Hispanic voters.

The moderators also refused to call a “misleading” video mashup of Biden coughing repeatedly at a campaign event.

“Because the video is an unedited excerpt from the vice president’s speech, our teams consider it to be out of context, but not misleading,” complaining DNC staffer Timothy Durigan said on Twitter.

“These rules need to be revised,” fumed Durigan – the senior analyst for the DNC’s counter-disinformation program, according to his LinkedIn account.

In a carefully courteous response, Twitter sent Durgan what Taibbi calls a “weird moderation flowchart” that “shows they can still apply labels to non-misleading material.”

“If this kind of mechanized speech control can be used in one way today, it can be used in another tomorrow, especially if invisible enforcers push the levers,” Taibbi noted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button