In the wake of Elon Musk’s latest release of the “Twitter Files,” it was revealed that a contingent of FBI agents, in what appeared to be a social media-related task force, had alleged backchannel communications with Twitter employees that could be used to flag specific accounts and tweets for “misinformation.”
Since the publication of the documents that revealed what many suggested was possible collusion between the agency and the social media platform, FBI officials told Fox News that its role in alerting Twitter regarding specific tweets and accounts under Twitter’s old management was nothing more than an observatory stance.
“We are providing it, so that they can take whatever action they deem appropriate under their terms of service to protect their platform and protect their customers, but we never direct or ask them to take action,” unnamed FBI officials told Fox News.
Seemingly doubling down on its position that it hasn’t engaged in any unethical communications with Twitter, an FBI representative went as far as describing the situation as a “conspiracy,” suggesting, too, that the recent “Twitter Files” revelations about the FBI amount to “misinformation.”
“The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries. As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers,” the unnamed FBI representative told Fox News.
The FBI representative added, “The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”
Agency officials have denied what many interpreted as FBI agents commanding Twitter to remove or censor certain content.
Independent journalist Matt Taibbi painted a different picture of the federal agency’s relationship with Twitter, according to the documents Musk provided him. In one of the tweets exposing the communications between the two entities, Taibbi described the relationship as a “master-caaster-canine” partnership.
“‘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:” Tabbi tweeted, along with a screenshot of a specific email from the 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
In another one of Taibbi’s tweets, he wrote, “Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.”
Tabbi also suggested that the communications amounted to making it appear that Twitter was a “subsidiary” of the FBI, given the volume of communication between them.
“Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary,” Taibbi tweeted.
3. Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary.
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
“We did no[t] request anything of the sort …” was the FBI’s response when asked by Fox News if the agency was responsible for encouraging Twitter to spike the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story in the weeks leading up to the 2020 general election.
“We focus on activities attributed to foreign actors, not on the content or narrative,” the federal law enforcement agency said when it was pressed on whether it gave Twitter employees a heads up on “Russian influence and Hunter Biden,” Fox News noted.
Independent journalist Michael Shellenberger also reported that the FBI had paid Twitter millions of dollars at the same time it was flagging potential “civic misinformation” and other related Twitter content for the platform to review.
46. The FBI’s influence campaign may have been helped by the fact that it was paying Twitter millions of dollars for its staff time.
“I am happy to report we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!” reports an associate of Jim Baker in early 2021. pic.twitter.com/SmNse97QxK
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 19, 2022
The FBI representative told Fox News that such payments amounted to “reimbursement” for the “reasonable costs and expenses associated with their response to a legal process…for complying with legal requests, and a standard procedure.”
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