The Saga Of “Twitter Files”
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For those of you who may had been out of the loop of Twitter Files saga, I hope this post will help to shed some light, with help from excerpt of wikipedia, in italics, and various videos discussing this topic, below:
The Twitter Files are a series of Twitter threads based on internal Twitter, Inc. documents shared by owner Elon Musk with freelance journalist Matt Taibbi, opinion writer Bari Weiss, and author Michael Shellenberger in December 2022. Taibbi and Weiss coordinated the release of the documents with Twitter management.
The first installment, written by Taibbi on December 2, 2022, presented elements of the deliberation process Twitter took regarding content moderation related to a New York Post article on the Hunter Biden laptop controversy in October 2020, as well as some other content. Musk and Republicans alleged the FBI pressured social media companies to suppress information about the laptop, but this claim was contradicted by Taibbi. Taibbi tweeted that federal law enforcement gave Twitter a “general” warning about foreign hacks but that the Twitter files showed “no evidence … of any government involvement in the laptop story.” Taibbi also did not say any Democrats had asked Twitter to suppress the story.
The second thread, presented by Weiss on December 8, addressed what Musk and others have described as the “shadow banning” of some users, a practice referred to as “visibility filtering” by previous Twitter management. Twitter had announced in 2018 a new policy of limiting the reach of accounts exhibiting patterns of “troll-like behaviors,” which resembled Musk’s newly announced “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of reach” policies intended to limit the spread of “negativity.”
The Part 1 and 2 of the Twitter Files had been dropped. More drops will also be added as time continues.
Twitter went live in 2006 and experienced explosive growth, reaching over 100 million users in 2012. Like other platforms, it began to develop a content moderation system in response to issues such as trolling, online harassment, and illegal or gruesome content. Content moderation is generally challenging, balancing the desire for an open platform with the removal of problematic content and users, and at Twitter’s scale the issue became especially difficult. The inner workings of content moderation systems are also not well-known to the public, as too much detail would enable abuse by bad actors. Twitter and other social media sites were exploited by Russian trolls to boost the candidacy of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Twitter was looking to be acquired in 2016, but could not find a buyer—some in the financial press speculated that the site’s insufficient content moderation had turned its environment toxic. Content like hate speech and misinformation/disinformation tend to spike during major events such as elections. Among its contentious moderation actions were the suppression of a story by the New York Post about the laptop of Hunter Biden during the 2020 election, under its policy of not distributing hacked materials, and its permanent suspension of the account of Donald Trump, citing a risk of violence in the January 6 Capitol attack in 2021.
Elon Musk purchased Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion and became its CEO on October 27. He took a drastically different approach to content moderation, cutting much of the staff and unbanning prominent users, including Trump, as part of being a self-described “free speech absolutist.” Musk’s approach raised concerns among some experts, and over 70 civil society organizations called on him to tackle the subsequent rise in hate speech. Musk partially reversed his position on November 18 and announced a “freedom of speech, but not of reach” policy of “negative/hate tweets” being “deboosted.” On November 28, Musk tweeted “The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself. The public deserves to know what really happened…” He gave a series of internal Twitter documents, such as screenshots, emails, and chat logs, to freelance journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss. Taibbi noted that “in exchange for the opportunity to cover a unique and explosive story, I had to agree to certain conditions” that he did not disclose. Weiss stated that the only condition she and her reporting team agreed to was that the material would be first published on Twitter. Musk later stated he had not read the documents prior to their release to Taibbi and Weiss.
On December 6, Musk fired James Baker, deputy general counsel at Twitter, for allegedly vetting information before it was passed on to Taibbi and Weiss, and providing an explanation that Musk found “unconvincing.” Baker had been involved in the decision to withhold the laptop story, and had previously been general counsel for the FBI when he was a witness for, but not implicated in, the failed John Durham prosecution of Michael Sussmann on allegations that Sussmann worked with the 2016 Clinton campaign to advance a Russian collusion narrative against Trump.
According to Taibbi, the Twitter Files number in the thousands. According to CNBC’s December 7 publication, Musk said that the future “Twitter Files” releases would include how Twitter handled the 2020 presidential election, the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miranda Devine, a columnist with the New York Post who was among the first to write about the laptop, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the presentation wasn’t the “smoking gun we’d hoped for,” adding, “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” alluding to a meeting he had with Apple CEO Tim Cook days earlier, amid speculation Apple might remove the Twitter app from its App Store. Devine later criticized ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News for not covering the Files, calling it “shameful”, as well as The New York Times‘ and the Washington Post‘s coverage of Musk — who she called “Twitter’s freedom-minded new owner” — for being “the same ignore-and-smear game across the leftie media sphere”. She also characterized the Anti-Defamation League as “propagandists” after reporting a stark increase in hate speech on the platform in the wake of Musk’s acquisition. Jim Geraghty of National Review wrote that “the files paint an ugly portrait of a social-media company’s management unilaterally deciding that its role was to keep breaking news away from the public instead of letting people see the reporting and drawing their own conclusions.”
The Editorial Board at The Wall Street Journal praised the release for exposing “a form of political corruption” where current and former U.S. intelligence officials have an influence on elections.
Musk accused Wikipedia of “non-trivial left-wing bias” after the Twitter Files article was considered for deletion, sharing screenshots of users referring to it as “not notable” and a “nothing burger”; however, the result of the discussion was a “keep”. In response to a tweet asking Musk how much Wikipedia would cost, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales replied that the website was “not for sale”.
For more details of the Suppression of New York Post story, Visibility filtering, Attack on the Capitol and suspension of Donald Trump, etc., please click HERE.
For various videos discussing this topic, starting with Twitter Files Parts 1-2, in the video published on Dec. 10, 2022, by All-In Podcast, as “E107: The Twitter Files Parts 1-2: shadow banning, story suppression, interference & more”, below:
(0:00) Bestie gut health!
(2:17) Twitter Files Part 2: shadow banning and blacklisting entire accounts and topics; how content moderation was handled at other tech giants
(33:09) Twitter Files Part 1: Suppressing the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story
(47:30) China effectively ends Zero-Covid policies; Iran, China, and Japan demographics
(58:27) Kevin O’Leary defends FTX on CNBC, was paid $15M as a spokesperson; Sinema flips to Independent
Twitter files 3.0 is out. It has been revealed that the social media giant was under the pressure from Federal agencies to ban former US President Donald Trump from the platform, in the video published on Dec. 9, 2022, by WION, as “Twitter files 3.0 is out: How Trump was de-platformed | World Latest English News | WION“, below:
Fox News host Trace Gallagher provides insight on the release of bombshell reports exposing Twitter’s censorship of conservatives on ‘Special Report.’ in the video published on Dec. 9, 2022, by Fox News, as “Part 3 of ‘Twitter Files’ will expose Trump’s removal“, below:
Fox News host Jon Scott shares the latest on part four of the ‘Twitter Files,’ the latest installment shows how Twitter executives pushed for a ‘change of policy’ regarding former President Donald Trump alone on ‘Fox News Live.’ in the video published on Dec. 10, 2022, by FOx News, as “Part four of Twitter files released“, below:
Elon Musk’s latest release of the ‘Twitter Files’ reveals staffers who didn’t believe Trump violated their ‘incitement’ policy, in the video published on Dec. 12, 2022, by Fox News, as “‘Twitter Files’ part 5 reveals aftermath of unprecedented Trump ban“, below:
New York Post’s Jon Levine on the files allegedly showing that Twitter became partisan and supportive of censorship, in the video published on Dec. 12, 2022, by Fox News, as “Jon Levine: This is the big picture of the ‘Twitter Files‘”, below:
Elon Musk Just EXPOSED How CORRUPT This Person Is! Even though it is smaller than other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, Twitter has long been seen as a formidable tool. Following Elon Musk’s acquisition of it in October, the microblogging site experienced a new peak in terms of interaction. As of right now, the billionaire is in charge of relieving Twitter of its previous obligations and secrets. He is doing this, in part, through “Twitter Files.” Elon Musk began counting down the minutes on Friday night for Twitter Files, a Twitter expose that he called “Twitter Files,” rather than some SpaceX launch. Since Matt Taibbi is the legitimate author of Part 1 of Twitter Files, he tweeted a link to that account. Is Elon Musk entitled to reveal whatever he wants about Twitter Inc’s editorial decisions? Are there governmental laws that need to be considered? And the next big question is “WHO WILL BE THE NEXT?” Stay tuned and let’s find out! Hello everyone! Welcome back to Elon Musk Evolution, where we bring you the most recent news about Elon Musk and his multibillion-dollar companies, space news and the latest science and technology. But, before we begin, make sure you subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon so you don’t miss any of our amazing videos. Following his acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk made a number of adjustments that have divided opinion about the social media platform. Its content moderation policies, which Republicans have long claimed were biased against them and caused the accounts of several prominent party members, including former President Trump, to be removed from the platform, were the main target of frequent criticism from the GOP under its previous ownership. As he pursues his goal of a “free speech” platform, Musk has recently rolled back those rules and reinstated a number of previously banned users. His actions have garnered praise from conservatives and public shaming from many liberals. The eccentric billionaire shared a series of documents about Twitter’s previous content moderation procedures with an independent journalist last week, apparently in an effort to demonstrate bias at the highest levels of the company’s leadership against the political right prior to his arrival, in what experts and observers of the tech and media industries say is Musk’s latest attempt to woo right-wing users back to Twitter amid a largely chaotic revamp of the company. The first part of what Musk dubbed “The Twitter Files” was released by independent journalist Matt Taibbi in a series of posts on the social media site that included allegedly screenshots from internal communications from top company executives that showed disagreement over how to respond to the New York Post’s publication of a story comprising extremely devastating political accusations about Hunter Biden, the son of then-candidate Joe Biden. Using publicly available data from OpenSecrets about political donations from Twitter staff, Taibbi claims at the beginning of the thread that the system by which politicians flagged content for the social media company to review “wasn’t balanced” because “Twitter was and is overwhelmingly staffed by people of one political orientation.” Because of that dynamic, he claimed, “the left, well, Democrats, had more channels and ways to complain openly to them than the right.” Musk endorsed the journalist’s post, which over the weekend sparked a right-wing indignation frenzy on social media and on political cable news programs. After Taibbi posted his thread, Tucker Carlson, a well-known Fox News anchor, said on his show, “It is hard to imagine a more brazen attack on our democracy than this.” in the video published on Dec. 12, 2022, by Elon Musk Revolution, as “Elon Musk Just EXPOSED How CORRUPT This Person Is!“, below:
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