Lazy eyes listen
Twitter CEO Elon Musk claimed on Tuesday that all social media platforms collaborate with the US government to censor content. Documents released by Musk following his acquisition of Twitter revealed that the platform collaborated with the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, and other government agencies to suppress information about elections, Ukraine, and Covid-19.
“Every social media company is engaged in heavy censorship, with significant government involvement and, at times, explicit direction,” Musk tweeted, adding that “Google frequently makes links disappear, for example.”
Musk was referring to internal Twitter communications obtained with his permission and published by journalist Matt Taibbi, which suggested that the platform’s senior executives met on a regular basis with members of the FBI and CIA, during which the agencies provided them with lists of “hundreds of problem accounts” to suspend in the run-up to the 2020 election.
According to Taibbi, the government was in contact with “virtually every major tech firm” in addition to Twitter. “Among these were Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, and even Pinterest.” According to Taibbi, CIA agents “nearly always” sat in on meetings of these firms with the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, explaining that while the task force was formed to combat alleged election interference by foreign states, it also made “mountains of domestic moderation requests.”
A lawsuit filed earlier this year by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana claims that in 2020, officials from 12 government agencies met weekly with representatives of Twitter, Facebook, and other Big Tech firms to decide which narratives and users to censor, with topics ranging from alleged election interference to Covid-19.
Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” paid $44 billion for Twitter in October. Since then, he has released a slew of documents that shed light on the platform’s previously opaque censorship policies. The document dumps, which were published by several independent journalists, revealed how Twitter suppressed information damaging to Joe Biden’s election campaign, colluded with the FBI to remove content the agency wanted hidden, aided the US military’s online influence campaigns, and censored “anti-Ukraine narratives” on behalf of multiple US intelligence agencies.
Last week, the FBI stated that correspondence between its agents and Twitter employees “show nothing more than examples of our longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements.”
The White House has refused to respond to allegations that the FBI directed Twitter to censor information critical of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.