What do the “Twitter files”, relayed by Elon Musk, reveal? – Liberation

 What do the “Twitter files”, relayed by Elon Musk, reveal?  – Liberation

The new owner of Twitter had promised revelations on the underside of censorship by the Hunter Biden platform in 2020, the first part of which was published on Saturday.

“Here we are !” Elon Musk welcomed the publication of the “Twitter files” on Saturday, which he himself had announced, and which the Republicans were impatiently awaiting. The same day, journalist Matt Taibbi revealed in 37 tweets what he claims was the content of internal Twitter conversations, at the time of the censorship by the blue bird of an article from the New York Post on the contents of the computer of Hunter Biden, the son of the President of the United States, in October 2020, three weeks before the American election.

These revelations, authorized by Musk, are a way for the new owner of Twitter to stage the “freedom” he claims to return to the social network. But they also mark yet another twist in the Hunter Biden affair which, like CheckNews had the opportunity to recall it in a recent article, has been a sea serpent in American political life for two years.

The story starts with a Delaware computer repairman, John Paul Mac Isaac, who allegedly recovered Joe Biden’s son’s computer. In the computer, Mac Isaac would have found tax declarations (while Hunter Biden is at the heart of an investigation for tax evasion) as well as intimate memories, amateur pornographic content involving the son Biden, or even videos where the the latter can be seen taking drugs. So much information that the Republican networks immediately tried to exploit… but that most mainstream media initially treated with great suspicion, given the murky origin of the leak, the suspicion of a hack, and the fear of an attempt at manipulation in the final stretch of the campaign. One exception, however: the New York Post, who quickly seized on the matter, but whose article will be hampered by Facebook and Twitter. Triggering accusations of censorship. Two years later, while the elements on which the New York Post have been authenticated, so it is behind the scenes of this “obstruction” that the Twitter files intend to lift.

“Extraordinary measures”

At the time, Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, had quickly disavowed the communication of the social network on the subject: “Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article wasn’t great. And block URL sharing via tweet or DM with no context explaining why we’re blocking: unacceptable”he had written, relaying published explanations via one of the official accounts of the blue bird. “Images in articles contain personal and private information – like email addresses and phone numbers – that violate our rules”had justified the teams.

According to Taibbi, “Twitter took extraordinary steps to remove the story, removing the links and posting warnings that it could be ‘dangerous’. They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool until then reserved for extreme cases, such as child pornography. The content of the exchanges reported by the journalist provides details on how this decision was made to hinder the circulation of content. Which was far from unanimous internally, according to the journalist. She “was taken at the highest level of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey. Former Head of Legal, Policy and Trust, Vijaya Gadde [remerciée depuis par Elon Musk, ndlr]played a key role”, writes the journalist. According to a former employee, the suspicion of “piracy”, for which there was no evidence, “was an excuse”. “In a few hours, almost everyone understood that it would not hold. But no one had the courage to reverse their decision., would have explained this source. Marc Taibbi notably publishes several screenshots presented as emails written by senior Twitter officials questioning the decision to censor the sharing of the article of the New York Post.

Political interference

“I find it difficult to understand how much of our policy allows us to flag this as unsafe. I think the best explainability argument for this case externally would be that we wait to understand if this story is the result of pirated materials”, for example, wrote the former head of communications, Trenton Kennedy, according to the screenshot. And to add: “We will be faced with difficult questions about this if we do not have solid reasoning.”

“The problem with the ‘hacked documents’ ruling, according to several sources, is that it normally requires the hacking to be found by a government official or law enforcement agency. But such a finding never surfaced throughout what one executive described as a 24-hour ‘whirlwind’ of company-wide chaos., writes the journalist in his Twitter thread. Another problem, according to him: that all these decisions were taken “unbeknownst to CEO Jack Dorsey, and how long it took for the situation to ‘unlock’ […]even after Dorsey intervened”.

But it is in terms of political interference that the Twitter files were expected. Marc Taibbi reveals for example that Ro Khanna, Democratic representative in Congress, concerned about this affair, wrote to Vijaya Gadde. The latter confirms in particular that the account of the spokesperson for the White House, Kayleigh McEnany, has indeed been temporarily suspended, as claimed by Donald Trump, for having shared the article of the New York Post. Again, the reason given is the sharing of private and hacked data. But Taibbi also claims that both sides, the Biden campaign team as well as the Trump White House, used to ask for, and get, the removal of tweets. Such requests were “common”writes Taibbi, who asserts, however, that this system was not “balance”, because of the Democratic affinities of those responsible for the social network.

Trump denounces “massive fraud”

The elements shared by Matt Taibbi, which could not be independently verified by other media, bring nothing really new to the substance of the case. But they provide material to feed the narrative of the Republicans of political censorship (the pro-Trump systematically forgetting that the requests for intervention on the social network, according to the Taibbi report, were therefore also the act of the White House) .

On Saturday, Donald Trump reacted on Truth Social [son réseau social alternatif fondé après la suspension de son compte Twitter en 2021, ndlr] : “Do you throw the 2020 presidential election results in the trash and declare the rightful WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution”he wrote, according to the CNN transcript.

A second installment of the upcoming Twitter Files has been announced by Elon Musk.