Independent journalist Matt Taibbi published a supplemental thread to Part 6 of the “Twitter Files” on Sunday, bringing to light documented exchanges between the FBI and Twitter’s executive discussing the topic of state actors on the social media platform.
In July 2020, an FBI agent with the San Francisco office told the head of Twitter’s disbanded global trust and safety council Yoel Roth that the company could expect questioning from the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), an inter-agency group that deals with cyber threats.
According to Taibbi, who has been given access to Twitter’s internal communications by the company’s new CEO Elon Musk for the sake of transparency and free speech, the FBI sent Twitter a set of follow-up questions after Twitter’s June 20 briefing to the DHS, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and FBI on election security. Company representatives testified that Twitter “had not observed much recent activity from official propaganda actors” on the platform.
In the follow-up questions, the FBI sought clarification on Twitter’s views of the state-media online landscape, and asked for the company to answer “some questions about your analysis and conclusions.”
The FBI then referenced public articles it said “indicate state media actors are prolific users of social media,” adding that this “seems in contrast to your own analysis as we documented it at the time of our discussion.”
Taibbi, who just published Part 6 of the “Twitter Files” on Friday, revealed how the FBI and a web of other private and government-affiliated actors were able to direct staff at Twitter to suppress information they did not want on the platform, expressing concern over the FBI’s probing of Twitter’s views about state actor activities on the platform.
“One would think that would be good news. The agencies seemed to feel otherwise,” Taibbi said of Twitter’s June testimony.
San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan wrote in explaining the inquiry from the United States Intelligence Community (USIC): “There was quite a bit of discussion within the USIC to get clarifications from your company.”
By Melanie Sun