Twitter Files Part 6: FBI treated Twitter as a 'subsidiary'
The sixth part of Twitter Files is out, and it describes how the US government gathered, examined, and flagged social media content. The latest installment has been reported by independent journalist/author Matt Taibbi, who reveals how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) treated Twitter as a "subsidiary." Elon Musk retweeted the expose, highlighting how Twitter worked before his takeover.
The FBI and Yoel Roth had over 150 email discussions
Taibbi lays out details on the FBI's terms with Twitter through a series of tweets. He calls it a "master-canine" quality of relationship. Twitter had a "constant and pervasive" kind of contact with the FBI as if it was a "subsidiary." There were over 150 emails between the FBI and Yoel Roth, the former Twitter Trust and Safety chief, between January 2020-November 2022.
Twitter was asked to act against users spreading election misinformation
According to Taibbi, some of the emails dealt with routine matters like wishing Roth a happy new year, and more. However, other emails were "information requests" regarding Twitter users who were related to active investigations. Surprisingly, in a high number of emails FBI was found requesting Twitter to take action against users spreading election misinformation, even involving joke tweets from accounts with few followers.
FTIF communicated with Twitter to identify election tampering causes
Taibbi claims that the FBI's social media-focused task force, known as FTIF, was constantly communicating with Twitter to track down the alleged foreign influence on elections and all kinds of election tampering. "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," said Taibbi.
Stacia Cardille attended 90-minute long meeting with FBI and others
On September 16, Twitter legal executive Stacia Cardille shared her notes to recently fired Twitter Deputy General Counsel, Jim Baker. The letter contained election-related work details that Cardille gathered from the 90-minute meeting with the representatives from the FBI, DHS, and more. The letter also reveals that the FBI saw no impediments to sharing classified information with Twitter executives.
Twitter received regular requests from FBI/DHS to moderate selective content/users
A government examines large amounts of data for a variety of purposes, from locating terrorist suspects to making economic projections. However, Taibbi says that organizations like the FBI and DHS were regularly sending social media content/users to Twitter via various entry points, demanding its moderation.
Here's one such email from FBI to Twitter
“HELLO TWITTER CONTACTS”: The master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter comes through in this November 2022 email, in which “FBI San Francisco is notifying you” it wants action on four accounts: pic.twitter.com/LjgB6fxENo— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Twitter acted on most of the accounts flagged by FBI
Taibbi shared an internal email from November 5, 2022, which the FBI's National Election Command Post sent to San Francisco field office. The mail contains a list of 25 accounts that "may warrant additional action." It was then passed to "Twitter folks" on November 6 by agent Elvis Chan. Two days later, Twitter replied with its list of actions taken on 15 accounts.