Your donation will support the student journalists of Pattonville High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase new equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.
“Twitter Files” Reveals Twitter-FBI Collusion and Massive Biased Censorship
March 1, 2023
With Elon Musk taking over as CEO of Twitter, controversy has stirred as users criticize both him and the job he has done managing the social media platform. Between the Twitter drama that has unfolded since Musk took over lies what he has coined “The Twitter Files.”
The Twitter Files are a series of internal Twitter documents that Musk has been giving to independent journalists to make public that highlights internal corruption that occurred within Twitter. What the Twitter Files reveals is astounding, with much of mainstream media turning a blind eye to it.
Twitter’s Biased Censorship
While the Twitter Files have uncovered a wide variety of topics, nearly all of them share a commonality: Twitter had been secretly censoring Twitter users that executives personally disagreed with, including when no terms of service had truly been violated.
This typically affected those on the conservative side of the political aisle, though some on the left were censored as well, primarily those that didn’t fit the status quo.
It’s been revealed that numerous accounts had been put on blacklists and set as “do not amplify” among other forms of censorship conducted by Twitter. This is all in spite of the fact that Jack Dorsey, a former CEO of Twitter, testified under oath when speaking to Democrat Representative Mike Doyle in 2018 that Twitter did not partake in censoring accounts.
Doyle: “I want to read a few quotes about Twitter’s practices, and I just want you to tell me if they’re true or not. ‘Social media is being rigged to censor conservatives.’ Is that true of Twitter?”
Doyle: “Are you censoring people?”
Doyle: “Twitter’s shadow-banning prominent Republicans. Is that true?”
How much Dorsey knew is unclear, as we do know Twitter executives did a lot without bringing it to his attention.
What we do know, however, is that this statement was untrue, as numerous prominent conservative accounts were in fact put on blacklists and set as “do not amplify” among other things.
The FBI’s Collusion with Twitter
One of the most notable examples of censorship revealed within the files was Twitter’s censorship of the Hunter Biden story; a story originally published by The New York Post that revolved around a laptop once belonging to President Biden’s son that contained questionable material, some of which being shady business deals that could have potentially involved the current President.
The story was censored by Twitter and labeled as hacked Russian misinformation a month before the 2020 election, also locking the New York Post’s account in the process, all while Twitter executives admitted behind closed doors that they had no evidence to support the claim.
One employee said on the matter, “I’m struggling to understand the policy basis for marking this as unsafe.” Another asked, “Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?”
14.Twitter personnel in that case went on to look for reasons to suspend all four accounts, including @fromma, whose tweets are almost all jokes (see sample below), including his “civic misinformation” of Nov. 8: pic.twitter.com/gwiDtPcWZv
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Yoll Roth, head of Trust and Safety at Twitter at the time, also admitted they had no evidence to back the claim. Nonetheless, they continued to censor the story.
What also makes the Hunter Biden story stand out among the Twitter Files was that the FBI was involved, telling Twitter a month before the Hunter Biden story broke to be wary of “Russian hack-and-leak” operations.
Twitter tried telling the FBI that very little Russian activity was feeding into the story, yet the censorship continued, as laid out in the lengthy Twitter Files Part 7.
That wasn’t the only role the FBI played in its collusion with the tech giant, though. The FBI also colluded with Twitter to suppress content they didn’t like either. The FBI’s contact with Twitter over time became constant and deeply rooted throughout Twitter (see first tweet to the right), as FBI personnel sent lists of accounts to Twitter and asked them to find a way to suspend or censor said accounts.
While that seems to have primarily affected the right, it did affect the left as well. This included censoring tweets that were clearly jokes (see second tweet to the right), like one tweet telling Republicans to vote on the wrong day.
Despite some being jokes, action was still taken against them, whether in the form of a deletion of the tweet or an entire suspension of their account. Twitter, whether by their own hand or by the request of the FBI, would shadowban, suspend, and put people on blacklists for content they disagreed with, and it was all done so without the public’s knowledge.
Senior James Ingolia said he thinks what Twitter did was “absurd” but wasn’t too surprised.
“If people aren’t breaking any rules that have already been set in place, I feel they shouldn’t take action against those individuals,” he said.
Regarding Ingolia’s thoughts about whether Twitter should deem what is misinformation or not, he said, “I think with the amalgamation of information we have now, it’s too difficult to say what is and isn’t misinformation. There are a lot of cases in which information was thought to be factual up until recent discoveries that have proven them to be false.”
I feel like this is just gonna make people more questionable [of the media]. They want us to believe the news but I feel like people are gonna question the news even more now since they’re censoring stuff that they don’t agree with.”
— Quinntes Rider
Sophomore Quinntes Rider thinks Twitter’s censorship will cause more damage than good.
Rider said that “everyone should be able to speak openly [about] what they want” and that ideas need to be discussed rather than shut down in order for a healthy society.
“It’s like a relationship; if you guys have a disagreement, and if you don’t talk about it, then it’s not gonna be fixed. So yeah, people gotta talk about it,” Rider said.
Sociology teacher Shaun Patrick described the collusion between Twitter and the FBI as a “breach of trust” between the people and intelligence agencies.
“They should have no say in what is being said unless it is inciting some type of violence or something like that… with the history of the FBI there’s just too much there to allow for that to happen,” he said.
Patrick said he feels Twitter really “damaged their own credibility” as he felt that they “made a call and really stepped in it, which to me is incredibly short-sighted.”
He said that when it pertains to free speech in general, “it’s important to shine a light on the bad stuff” happening rather than shunning it off from public view, and that society would better be able to overcome it that way.
Patrick added that he feels what we need “more than anything is a true place where you can have free speech; where you can have unfettered discussions.” He continued, saying that while we’re “not good at it at the moment, I think we get better as we go forward.”
“The FBI has more of a political agenda which is preserving the status quo, so whatever kind of benefits them I think is kind of what they want,” he said.
This wouldn’t be the first time the FBI has gone after ordinary individuals for speech they didn’t like. Perhaps the clearest example of this would be a project the FBI conducted for years dubbed Cointelpro, which was meant to infiltrate and discredit many opinions that did not align with the status quo.
While the idea that Twitter has participated in the censoring of speech they don’t like isn’t surprising to many, it is still a distressing series of events that Twitter had partaken in.
What’s even more alarming is intelligence agencies’ collusion with Twitter, censoring information they didn’t like and stopping ordinary citizens from having a voice on one of the largest social media platforms in the world meant for discussing different viewpoints.
While some argue that Twitter is a private company that has the right to do what they want, that does not mean it’s moral. Shunning conversations with differing opinions is not helpful for the greater good of society, especially in a time when the United States is in civil war-level tensions, and many Democrats and Republicans consider each other their worst enemies. Doing this only puts people even more into an echo chamber, and incites more tribalism.
The United States needs people to be able to have a civil exchange of ideas and dialogue, especially with those they disagree with, in order for people to have a better understanding of people’s perspectives, as well as to better understand their own as well. Shutting down conversation before it has even begun is one of the worst things a society can do, and will only lead to more tribalism, more hatred, and less understanding.
Much more on what has been revealed in the Twitter files thus far can be viewed here. This list is being updated as more information is revealed, and corruption exposed.