Elon Musk rolled out his internal probe into how Twitter handled the Hunter Biden laptop story on Friday, showing extreme lengths the company went through to protect President Joe Biden.
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In a thread from journalist Matt Taibbi, endorsed by Musk, leaked documents suggest the company disproportionately favored Democrats on content moderation before the billionaire took control.
The Rolling Stone contributing editor laid out a series of redacted files alleged to originate from Twitter employees’ communications, appearing to show collusion between Twitter’s top brass and the Biden campaign, as well as the Democratic National Committee.
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The #twitterfiles are worse than we thought. The Biden campaign was literally deciding what people could and could not tweet. And the leftists who worked at Twitter were more than happy to oblige. They sabotaged the 2020 presidential election.— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) December 3, 2022
In one of the documents dated Oct. 24, 2020, an employee is seen linking to a set of tweets from accounts flagged by a group referred to as “the Biden team.” Three hours later, another employee replies that he “handled these,” implying what appears to be removal.
Another screenshot shows a dialogue between workers at the company where two tweets are flagged, one by prominent conservative actor James Woods, as “an additional report from DNC.”
But the greatest attention was focused on accusations surrounding Twitter’s suppression of evidence obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop, initially published by the New York Post.
“Twitter took extraordinary steps to suppress the story, removing links and posting warnings that it may be ‘unsafe.’ They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography,” Taibbi wrote.
Taibbi then described how the story was removed on the basis of violating Twitter’s “hacked materials policy” and was made “at the highest levels of the company but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey.”
Sources told Taibbi they had issues with the official basis, though. According to several anonymous employees, flagging a post for hacked materials normally “required an official/law enforcement finding of a hack.” However, that never appeared.
8. By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: “More to review from the Biden team.” The reply would come back: “Handled.” pic.twitter.com/mnv0YZI4af— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 2, 2022
Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former head of Legal, Policy and Trust, is said to have played a vital role in the decision, along with former Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker, who previously served at the FBI.
Still, Taibbi assured that there was “no evidence” of any direct government involvement in Twitter’s decision to remove the laptop story from its platform.
“They just freelanced it,” a one-time employee told Taibbi. “Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it.”
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., reportedly reached out to Gadde about growing public backlash, urging her to reconsider the decision, which he states “seems [to be] a violation of the 1st Amendment principles.”
“I say this as a total Biden partisan and convinced that he didn’t do anything wrong. But the story now has become more about censorship than relatively innocuous emails and it’s becoming a bigger deal than it would have been,” Khanna wrote.
The research firm NetChoice also voiced concern to Twitter over suppressing the Post’s story, sharing a poll of 12 Congress members’ positions on the drama and assuring there was a “blood bath” awaiting the company on Capitol Hill.