January 27, 2023

Documents reveal how ‘Russiagate’ was used for Twitter censorship

Democrats threatened regulation and leaked to the press to pressure the platform

Internal documents from Twitter made public on Tuesday display how the social media platform has been pressured to follow the US intelligence community’s lead on censorship back in 2017.

Key Democrats in america Congress, a British college, and two media shops – Politico and BuzzFeed – played a major part in  constructing and increasing the ‘ Russiagate’ conspiracy theory, according to research simply by Matt Taibbi.

In a pattern established in just six weeks, from August in order to October 2017, Twitter went from being on nobody’s radar to agreeing to consider orders from US agents as to whom to censor, Taibbi wrote on  Substack .  

“ Threats from Congress came initial, then a rush of poor headlines (inspired by leakages from congressional committees), and lastly a series of moderation demands from the outside, ”   he added.

In a 30-tweet  thread , Taibbi  presented emails and other internal documents he obtained, because of Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk.

Democrats had accused Russia of helping Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Their claim that Trump had ties along with Moscow was based on a ‘ dossier’ fabricated by a British spy. From there, they insinuated that WikiLeaks’ publishing of internal DNC files and personal emails of Clinton’s campaign had something to do with Moscow, while ‘ Russian bots and trolls’ posted ‘ misinformation’ on social media, which usually somehow undermined the political election.  

Simply by August 2017, Facebook has been purging accounts accused associated with being  “ connected to Russia. ”   Unconcerned, Twitter sent more than a list of 22  “ possible”   Russian accounts to the Senate Intelligence Committee, only to be denounced by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat.

Right at the end of September, Twitter VP for Public Policy Colin Crowell was  warning   that  “ Warner has political incentive to keep this issue in top of the news, maintain stress on us and [the] rest of business to keep producing material for them. ”   Crowell also noted the Democrats were  “ using cues from Hillary Clinton, ”   which only Warner and his House counterpart, Congressman Adam Schiff, were seeking any feedback from social media companies.

Meanwhile, as Taibbi put it,   “ a torrent of tales sourced to the [committee] poured into the news, ”   whilst several senators – including Warner but also John McCain, an anti-Trump Arizona Republican – proposed bills that would have cracked down on social media.  

“ Russia Task Force”   setup by Twitter on Oct 2 found  “ no evidence of a matched approach”   simply by October 13. The final statement on  October 23   found  “ 32 suspicious accounts and only 17 of those are connected with Russia. ”   Of those, only 2 spent anything close to $10, 000 on  marketing   – and another of them was RT.

Policy Director Carlos Monje admits in an Oct 18  memo   that  “ our ads policy and product changes are an work to anticipate congressional oversight. ”   One of these simple changes was the  October 26 ban   on advertising simply by RT and Sputnik.

A November 22 internal email accuses the particular Senate Intelligence Committee associated with leaking Twitter’s internal are accountable to the media. A Politico story accusing Twitter of deleting files is then a BuzzFeed article alleging a German-language bot system with  “ signs of being connected to Russia. ”   The panel demanded a report based on the story, which Twitter’s Yoel Roth dutifully wrote up.

“ You can see how the Russian cyber-threat had been essentially conjured into being, with political and media pressure serving as the engine inflating something Twitter believed was negligible and uncoordinated to massive dimensions, ”   Taibbi wrote.

All of this leads to the  internal instructions   to ban anything  “ recognized by the US intelligence neighborhood as a state-sponsored entity conducting cyber-operations. ”   It was the first step in the process that will eventually lead to the FBI and the Biden White House  telling Twitter   exactly who to censor.

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