Twitter Files released by Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi

There’s a lot going on Twitter these days. From employees getting fired to the policy being under scrutiny. To add a cherry on top Elon Musk and  Matt Taibbi started a thread “Twitter files” that reveal several secrets of what actually happened inside Twitter.

Let’s look at the following revelations made by Matt Taibbi.

Twitter files - A Thread by Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi

2. What you’re about to read is the first installment in a series, based upon thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter.

Twitter Files shared on twitter by Elon Musk

3. The “Twitter Files” tell an incredible story from inside one of the world’s largest and most influential social media platforms. It is a Frankensteinian tale of a human-built mechanism grown out of the control of its designer.

Twitter Files part 1 released by Elon Musk

4. Twitter in its conception was a brilliant tool for enabling instant mass communication, making a true real-time global conversation possible for the first time.

Twitter secret chats released by Elon Musk

5. In its early conception, Twitter more than lived up to its mission statement, giving people “the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”

Secrets revealed in Twitter Files part 1

6. As time progressed, however, the company was slowly forced to add those barriers. Some of the first tools for controlling speech were designed to combat the likes of spam and financial fraudsters.

Twitter executives secret chat in Biden Hunter case

7. Slowly, over time, Twitter staff and executives began to find more and more uses for these tools. Outsiders began petitioning the company to manipulate speech as well: first a little, then more often, then constantly.

Twitter secrets part 1 thread

8. By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: “More to review from the Biden team.” The reply would come back: “Handled.”

twitter files

Twitter secret thread released on twitter

9. Celebrities and unknowns alike could be removed or reviewed at the behest of a political party:

Twitter revelations by Elon Musk and Matt taibbi

Biden Hunter controversy secrets released by Elon Musk

10. Both parties had access to these tools. For instance, in 2020, requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honored. However:

Hunter Biden laptop story secret

11. This system wasn’t balanced. It was based on contacts. Because Twitter was and is overwhelmingly staffed by people of one political orientation, there were more channels, more ways to complain, open to the left (well, Democrats) than the right.

Twitter secrets by Elon Musk

Secret related to Twitter suppressed Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020

12. The resulting slant in content moderation decisions is visible in the documents you’re about to read. However, it’s also the assessment of multiple current and former high-level executives.

Twitter executives sensitive chat revealed

Okay, there was more throat-clearing about the process, but screw it, let’s jump forward

Twitter Files for Internal Hunter Biden Debate Revealed by Elon Musk

16. The Twitter Files, Part One: How and Why Twitter Blocked the Hunter Biden Laptop Story

Twitter secret chats

17. On October 14, 2020, the New York Post published BIDEN SECRET EMAILS, an expose based on the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop.

Twitter Files first installment

18. Twitter took extraordinary steps to suppress the story, removing links and posting warnings that it may be “unsafe.” They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography.

Twitter thread of internal documents shared by Elon Musk

19. White House spokeswoman Kaleigh McEnany was locked out of her account for tweeting about the story, prompting a furious letter from Trump campaign staffer Mike Hahn, who seethed: “At least pretend to care for the next 20 days.”

Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi report on Twitter’s decision

Twitter emails on Hunter Biden Story revealed by Elon Musk

20.This led public policy executive Caroline Strom to send out a polite WTF query. Several employees noted that there was tension between the comms/policy teams, who had little/less control over moderation, and the safety/trust teams:

Twitter Files: Elon Musk leaks old top-secret chats around censorship on Twitter

Censorship of The New York Post story on Hunter Biden.

21. Strom’s note returned the answer that the laptop story had been removed for violation of the company’s “hacked materials” policy:

Top-secret chats revealed by Elon Musk

The twitter files thread

22. Although several sources recalled hearing about a “general” warning from federal law enforcement that summer about possible foreign hacks, there’s no evidence – that I’ve seen – of any government involvement in the laptop story. In fact, that might have been the problem…

Twitter files part 1 by Elon Musk

23. The decision was made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with the former head of legal, policy, and trust Vijaya Gadde playing a key role.

Twitter's secret documents released by Elon Musk

24. “They just freelanced it,” is how one former employee characterized the decision. “Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it.”

Twitter secrets related to Hunter Biden

25. You can see the confusion in the following lengthy exchange, which ends up including Gadde and former Trust and safety chief Yoel Roth. Comms official Trenton Kennedy writes, “I’m struggling to understand the policy basis for marking this as unsafe”:

Matt Taibbi report on Twitter’s decision to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story

Twitter secrets exposed by Elon Musk

26. By this point “everyone knew this was fucked,” said one former employee, but the response was essentially to err on the side of… continuing to err.

first installment of twitter Files by Matt Taibbi

Twitter executives secret email released by Elon Musk

27. Former VP of Global Comms Brandon Borrman asks, “Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?”

Secrets of twitter officials

Twitter files thread by Matt Taibbi

28. To which former Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker again seems to advise staying the non-course, because “caution is warranted”:

Biden and Hunter secrets with twitter officials

Hunter Biden secret revealed by Elon Musk

29. A fundamental problem with tech companies and content moderation: many people in charge of speech know/care little about speech, and have to be told the basics by outsiders. To wit:

Twitter executives secret in Hunter Biden case

30. In one humorous exchange on day 1, Democratic congressman Ro Khanna reaches out to Gadde to gently suggest she hop on the phone to talk about the “backlash re speech.” Khanna was the only Democratic official I could find in the files who expressed concern.

Secrets of Twitter’s action against the Biden Hunter laptop

Twitter files thread on Hunter Biden abandoned laptop story

31. Gadde replies quickly, immediately diving into the weeds of Twitter policy, unaware Khanna is more worried about the Bill of Rights:

Twitter’s secret action against the laptop story

Twitter secret documents exposed by Elon Musk

32. Khanna tries to reroute the conversation to the First Amendment, mention of which is generally hard to find in the files:

Censoring the laptop story by twitter officials

Hunter Biden Secrets released in Twitter thread

33. Within a day, head of Public Policy Lauren Culbertson receives a ghastly letter/report from Carl Szabo of the research firm NetChoice, which had already polled 12 members of congress – 9 Rs and 3 Democrats, from “the House Judiciary Committee to Rep. Judy Chu’s office.”

Biden Hunter Secret revealed by Elon Musk

Twitter Files Thread started by Elon Musk

34. NetChoice lets Twitter know a “blood bath” awaits in upcoming Hill hearings, with members saying it’s a “tipping point,” complaining tech has “grown so big that they can’t even regulate themselves, so the government may need to intervene.”

Hunter biden laptop secret by twitter officials

35. Szabo reports to Twitter that some Hill figures are characterizing the laptop story as “tech’s Access Hollywood moment”:

Confidential conversations among former Twitter executives

36. Twitter files continued:
Szabo’s letter contains chilling passages relaying Democratic lawmakers’ attitudes. They want “more” moderation, and as for the Bill of Rights, it’s “not absolute”

Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden exposed by Elon Musk

Conclusion –

An amazing subplot of the Twitter/Hunter Biden laptop affair was how much was done without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, and how long it took for the situation to get “unfucked” (as one ex-employee put it) even after Dorsey jumped in.

Hunter Biden twitter secret revealed by Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi

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