The third installment of the “Twitter Files” released Friday, showing the company’s internal communications around the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot and what led up to the decision to ban then-President Donald Trump from the platform.
They also showed how Twitter coordinated with the FBI for the censorship of individuals and how executives governed the platform with an iron fist: barring user engagement for tweets they did not like, or presumed to be false.
“It’s even worse than we thought,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, tweeted Friday evening.
The worries by conservatives that they were victims of blacklists, suspensions, and shadowbanning were all true, the files showed — contrary to testimony from the company’s executives.
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Hawley added: “It is hard to count the number of lies Twitter executives told under oath to Congress.”
Rep Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, echoed: “They told us Twitter didn’t shadow ban. False.”
Jordan, who was recently selected to become the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Republicans overtake the majority in the House of Representatives in January, similarly said the Twitter tyranny was “worse than we thought.”
“What’s worse,” Jordan asked his 3.4 million followers, “Former Twitter executives lying about shadow banning [or] the media ignoring the story or promoting those lies?”
In January, House Republicans will gain the power to launch congressional investigations and host committee hearings.
At that time, “Big Tech will be held accountable for their flagrant bias,” said Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas.
Earlier on Friday, “part one” of the third “Twitter Files” installment was released via Substack writer Matt Taibbi.
The internal documents, dated from October 2020-January 2021, show “the erosion of standards within the company in months before J6, decisions by high-ranking executives to violate their own policies, and more, against the backdrop of ongoing, documented interaction with federal agencies,” Taibbi told his followers.
“Whatever your opinion on the decision to remove Trump that day, the internal communications at Twitter between January 6th-January 8th have clear historical import. Even Twitter’s employees understood in the moment it was a landmark moment in the annals of speech,” he added.
Taibbi reported that executives at Twitter “started processing new power” following their decision to ban Trump, indicating they were “prepared to ban future presidents and White Houses – perhaps even Joe Biden. The ‘new administration,’ says one exec, ‘will not be suspended by Twitter unless absolutely necessary.’”
The communications also showed Twitter executives and staff operating in coordination with the FBI and other federal agencies.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk, though, defended the efforts of the FBI.
“With rare exception, the FBI seems to want to do the right thing, but there is no question that Twitter operated as a Democratic Party activist machine,” Musk tweeted.
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The release comes the day after Musk shared “Part Deux” of the “Twitter Files” on Thursday, showing how the company would “build blacklists” of certain users or tweets.
The internal documents were shared with journalist Bari Weiss.
“A new #TwitterFiles investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” Weiss said in a thread.
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Weiss then recalled Twitter heads previously denying that they performed such actions.
“In 2018, Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde (then Head of Legal Policy and Trust) and Kayvon Beykpour (Head of Product) said: ‘We do not shadow ban.’ They added: ‘And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology,’” he reported.
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Gadde and Beykpour simply had another name for the action, Weiss reported, as Twitter executives and employees called the process of diminishing a person’s reach on the platform “visibility filtering” or “VF.”
“Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool,” Weiss reported, citing a “senior Twitter employee.”
Musk confirmed in a later tweet that “some accounts on the right were suspended even when Twitter internally acknowledged that no rules were broken.”
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The major reveal comes days after the initial installment of internal documents showed a glimpse at the company’s general content moderation protocols.
Musk shared the first “Twitter Files” with Substack journalist Matt Taibbi.
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According to the Musk-provided and Taibbi-shared information, Twitter’s ever-persistent content moderation was a “decision was made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with former head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde playing a key role.”
Musk has promised transparency as he moves forward with leading the company.