Matt Taibbi, tweeted another installment of the Twitter files on Friday which showed that federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, partnered with contractors to "pressure Twitter to moderate content." This included trying to compel the social media company to censor a 2020 tweet from President Trump criticizing ballot harvesting.
Trump tweeted, "California hired a pure Sleepy Joe Democrat firm to count and 'harvest' votes. No way Republicans get a fair shake. Lawyers, get started!!! @GOPLeader California is in big trouble. Vote Trump and watch the greatest comeback of them all!!! Also, New York and Illinois - go for it!"
Taibbi reported that the FBI became a de facto "subsidiary" for Twitter due to their heavy involvement. Taibbi reported, "Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth."
The FBI created a social media task force after the 2016 election at the height of the debunked story which claimed Trump colluded with Russia to his benefit in his election against Hillary Clinton.
A partner organization of the Department of Homeland Security, the Center for Internet Security, would send reports to Twitter via their Partner Support Portal.
Trump's tweet about ballot harvesting in California was flagged by DHS and through their partner group they contacted Twitter and asked, "why Twitter didn't take any action" over Trump's tweet.
DHS used Twitter's policies as a justification for asking for the ban. After the message from DHS was received by Twitter, a Twitter employee sent the question on to the team.
"I have pasted their ask below," it reads. "They are requesting feedback on the tweet and why Twitter didnt [sic] take any action."
The message from DHS read: "Ballots in California are only counted by local elections officials in an open and transparent process. This tweet undermines voters confidence that their votes will be fairly and properly counted. Please see relevant election codes." It then goes on to list those codes.
Another employee responds, asking for clarity, saying "To clarify, is their ask for Twitter to review, or to explain why no action was taken upon a previous reveiw?"
"Why no action was taken?" Came the reply. "This report ame in through our partner support portal." That portal was a direct communication link between between the FBI, DHS and Twitter.
It was also reported in an earlier drop of the Twitter Files that Trump was censored by Twitter "under pressure from federal agencies" before being banned on January 8.
Taibbi noted that the federal agencies were monitoring citizens as well as Trump and other political officials. He tweeted, "Instead of chasing child sex predators or terrorists, the FBI has agents — lots of them — analyzing and mass-flagging social media posts. Not as part of any criminal investigation, but as a permanent, end-in-itself surveillance operation. People should not be okay with this."
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