New Twitter bombshell: How US spies used false allegations of Russian election meddling to bring tech giant to heel

The files reveal how Moscow’s alleged secret ways were used to pitch the platform to the US Democratic Party.

In this week’s top-selling #TwitterFiles thread, journalist Matt Taibbi further exposed the media giant’s disturbing collusion with the US national security state. A former Rolling Stone writer explained how political pressure from the US Democratic Party very effectively forced the company to endorse the lie that its platform was heavily militarized by Russia, with far-reaching consequences.

Find the “Russian trail” at all costs

the firstboldly calledHow Twitter enables the intelligence communityIn August 2017, despite dubious claims that Russian bots and trolls were responsible for the election of Donald Trump reaching a fever pitch in the mainstream media, the Twitter hierarchy knew their platform was not overrun with malicious actors led by the Kremlin.

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In internal e-mails, the company’s senior executives and communications specialists almost scoffed at the idea of ​​it being overrun by Russian robots. They couldn’t find out either “great connection” In account activity related to the November 2016 elections, neither “Larger Models” all. They plan to take action against potentially less than 25 users. So it was just decided to neglect the media’s approach to the issue.

The following month, Twitter informed the Senate that it had suspended 22 possible Russian accounts and 179 other accounts. “possible links” to these accounts. Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, immediately held a high-profile press conference to condemn the social network’s response “Frankly, it is not enough at all levels.

Such pressure combined with the bitter statement of two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “It’s time for Twitter to stop dragging its feet and come to terms with the fact that its platform is being used as a cyberwarfare tool.” forced the social network to create a special space “Russian Working Group” to investigate the matter. He did – and found nothing. “There is no evidence of a coordinated approach” Despite an “extensive” internal investigation, it was identified among potential Kremlin-controlled accounts.

Hillary Clinton


© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In all, after manually checking the posts of thousands of accounts flagged as “suspicious” by foreign actors, they found that only 32 were suspicious, 17 of which were linked to Russia, and only two spent money on advertising. RT receiving profitable marketing offers from Twitter in the run-up to the election.

Again, senior officials of the Democratic Party were outraged by these results. This was followed by mixed and sensational reports claiming that Twitter was covering up the Kremlin’s dirty work for nefarious reasons, either lying about the matter or actively deleting tons of incriminating information to cover its tracks.

“If Twitter was a contractor for the FSB… they couldn’t have built a more effective disinformation platform.” Intelligence Committee adviser Professor Thomas Reid told Politico at the time.

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Get involved in politics

None of this was true. But it gave Democrats ammunition to threaten Twitter’s political advertising rules, which could prove extremely costly to the company’s bottom line. This sent senior management into a panic, which was only exacerbated by the timely decision run away from a database of thousands of suspected Russian bots and trolls to the Intelligence Committee’s mainstream media. This resulted in aggressive questions from journalists.

Realizing that the pressure will only increase – the media and politicians have decided that this is absolutely a huge scandal, regardless of the available evidence and will continue to push until they get what they want – Twitter bowed and made it clear that bots and trolls were, in fact, a major problem on its platform, and it will continue to do so in the future. would be proactive in preventing the activity.

Internally, Twitter executives colonized about an unofficial and confidential policy for dealing with rogue actors on the network. En masse they would draw the line, content removed and users banned “at our discretion”, they would when it was private “outboard” anything and everything “Identified by the US intelligence community as a state-sponsored entity conducting cyber operations” without argument.

Twitter had actively invited American spies to carry out the moderation process, without anyone’s knowledge and with the clear internal understanding that they would not go away. This is a bad reputation expanded When Covid-19 came to the US, and again, it became the battering ram of the Kremlin’s “disinformation”.

In February 2020, the US State Department’s intelligence arm, the Center for Global Engagement, released a report, “Russian Disinformation Apparatus Uses Concerns About Coronavirus”. He claimed that a vast network of bots and trolls, controlled by Moscow and powered by China and Iran, was spreading endless propaganda. “Depicting the coronavirus as a man-made biological weapon.”

The reporting criteria for determining whether an account was a bot or a troll was incredibly if the user followed. “two or more” Chinese diplomats. The 250,000-strong network included Western government officials and media outlets including CNN. Such a weak evidence base has not deterred mainstream journalists from publishing countless articles confirming the report’s findings.

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The Twitter staff, probably at this point because of past experience, could see what the Center was doing—that is, working “to include” into “Content Moderator Club” whereby Google, Twitter and Facebook were controlled by the FBI, DHS and other US government agencies. The leaders of these tech giants unanimously opposed the inclusion of the Centre, especially its “attack mandate” data operations “Promote American interests.”

Hell under the heel

After years of bending over backwards to appease the Democratic establishment, Twitter tried to push back. In a series of internal emails, various executives expressed deep concerns about giving the Center any influence over the platform, initially rejecting the FBI’s request to include the organization in “a regular industry call from the Moderation Club.” It was felt that the Center’s involvement in this matter would bear fruit “Big risks…especially as the election heats up.”

Eventually, the FBI proposed a compromise—the CIA, NSA, and Global Engagement Center could listen in on calls from industry, but would not be active participants. Twitter backtracked, and its executives quickly regretted the decision. Before long, the social network was bombarded with demands to censor content and ban users from every US government agency under the sun.

This applied to US government officials who wanted users banned because they didn’t like the person in question. Famous House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a once-in-a-lifetime Democrat he asked Twitter will ban journalist Paul Sperry for reporting critical of the Committee’s work. After initially refusing, Sperry was later fired.

Almost all other requests were received immediately, even those from the Global Engagement Center. This included demands to ban independent media that claimed to be false “controlled by the GRU” and closed “To the Russian government”. In an email, a former CIA employee drew attention That said, Twitter won’t be able to turn down a single request anytime soon. “Our window is closing on this” they said.

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In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Twitter was abuzz with inquiries from officials, departments and agencies who were overwhelmed and overworked. If an action wasn’t taken immediately, follow-up emails quickly appear asking if an action has already been taken, why, and when.

In one inquiry, an FBI official even apologized “In advance for your workload.” Once a lawyer, probably exhausted from the social network, complained internally: “My inbox is messed up right now.”

Previous #TwitterFiles threads revealed that the FBI paid the social network $3 million to pursue its claims. According to the most recent data, it is clear that the company and its employees are significantly underpaid for their efforts. Future posts promise more explosive revelations, but the long-hidden truths that have leaked out so far should make every Twitter user wonder how the site worked secretly for years as an influential wing of US intelligence.

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