Here we go, again, with Elon Musk and his free-speech-encouraging company Twitter! After Musk acquired the company and half of Twitter’s advertisers had already fled the platform, Elon Musk revealed “Twitter Files”. This thread of tweets released by Matt Taibbi talks about what was happening amongst Twitter executives regarding the censorship of an instance from 2020 that is related to Hunter Biden, US President Joe Biden’s son.
The first installment of the Twitter Files is based on the multiple internal documents at Twitter. Before the release of Twitter Files, the new Twitter head counted down and finally tweeted “This will be awesome.”
Matt Taibbi, who released Twitter Files described it as “a Frankensteinian tale of a human-built mechanism grown out of the control of its designer.” The thread talks about a story published by the New York Post which reported about Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop. It spilled details about the laptop containing evidence of a broker meeting that he inappropriately attempted between his father and a client.
The thread talks about a story published by the New York Post which reported details about Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop.
According to Taibbi, the social media giant went out of the way to suppress this story and also supported it with screenshots of conversations between former Twitter executives that displayed disagreement among them with respect to their censorship policy and this story. It indicates that Twitter may have done this without receiving requests from Biden’s presidential campaign or any other external pressure to remove the posts on the platform.
The company removed and blocked links to the story and also prevented Twitter users from sharing it. Taibbi added in one of his tweets, “They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography.”
When The New York Post refused to remove a tweet about this story, the social media platform suspended its account for around two weeks. It reversed the suspension on 30th October 2020.
The screenshots attached included conversations between Vijaya Gadde, former policy head of Twitter, Yoel Roth, former trust and safety chief, etc. This attracted criticism from the White House and when White House spokeswoman Kaleigh McEnany tweeted about it, she was locked out of her account. This also prompted a furious letter from Mike Hahn, Trump campaign staffer.
Twitter’s Public Policy executive, Caroline Strom also showed some signs of concern and some “employees noted that there was tension between the comms/policy teams, who had little/less control over moderation, and the safety/trust teams.” In response, the policy team claimed that the story was against the company’s hacked materials policy.
This was done without the knowledge of Twitter’s founder and CEO Jack Dorsey
This was done without the knowledge of Twitter’s founder and CEO Jack Dorsey and in the aftermath, Dorsey said he regretted the platform’s decision about censoring the story.
Musk also mentioned that Part 2 of these files will be released soon. Musk responded to this thread by saying “handled” in reference to the term used by employees at Twitter after removing a post.