The “Twitter files” are a series of 17 releases of internal documents from the social media platform that prove the US government was working with Twitter to censor certain information. The files reveal a concerning relationship between government and big tech, and suggest that the US government could be engaging in censorship on other social media platforms. The files also confirm that Twitter had a shadow banning system in place designed to limit the reach of specified users, and that top Twitter staff worked tirelessly to suppress then-president Donald Trump’s reach on the platform following the events of January 6th. The files reveal that Twitter was in frequent contact with the FBI, and that the social media company could be considered a subsidiary of the intelligence agency.
In December 2020, the first Twitter files were released, revealing a concerning relationship between the US government and the social media platform. Since then, 16 more sets of files have been released, shedding light on censorship and suppression of free speech. In this article, we’ll delve into the Twitter files, examining why they’re significant, who’s releasing them, and how those in power are pushing back.
In October 2020, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk finalized his acquisition of Twitter. Prior to the acquisition, he promised to bring more transparency to the social media platform, intending to increase trust. In November, he delivered on this, tweeting about the upcoming release of the Twitter files on free speech suppression.
The Twitter Files
The Twitter files are a collection of internal documents at Twitter. They prove that the US government was working closely with the social media platform to censor certain information. Free speech is protected under the First Amendment in the US, meaning that any censorship by the government could be illegal. The Twitter files also suggest that the US government could be engaging in censorship on other social media platforms.
Twitter Files Release
Multiple journalists have posted the Twitter files in lengthy threads, including Matt Taibi, Michael Schellenberger, Barry Weiss, Lee Fang, David Zweig, and Alex Berenson. Accessing the information has been challenging due to Twitter’s systems not being designed to be searched. Additionally, journalists have faced obstruction and sabotage from Twitter employees.
Censorship of Hunter Biden Story
The first set of Twitter files discussed the suppression of a story about Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, leading up to the 2020 election. The story was published by the New York Post and suggested that Joe Biden was involved in shady activity. Twitter and other social media outlets censored the story at the request of Democrat interests.
Twitter’s Secret Blacklisting Policy
The second set of Twitter files confirmed Twitter’s secret blacklisting policy, also known as Shadow Banning. This was designed to limit the reach of specified users, and it was almost always political. The suppression went into overdrive during the pandemic with those skeptical of pandemic restrictions being targeted.
Removal of Donald Trump from Twitter
The third, fourth, and fifth sets of Twitter files focused on the removal of Donald Trump from Twitter. Twitter’s top staff worked to suppress Trump’s reach on the platform. They came up with a new content policy to justify banning him, with implications that they were pushed to do this by Democrat interests. The glorification of violence policy was used as justification for removing him from the platform.
Twitter’s Collaboration with the FBI
The sixth set of Twitter files revealed that the company was in frequent contact with the FBI, with the social media platform essentially considered a subsidiary of the intelligence agency. Twitter always complied with takedown requests from the FBI, and many former FBI agents were working at Twitter, communicating through their Slack channel.
The Twitter files are an embodiment of the collusion between the US government and Big Tech, representing a significant threat to individual freedom of expression. Those in power continue to push back against the transparency that the Twitter files represent, but these revelations have highlighted a concerning relationship between government and social media platforms with implications for all of us.