Dec 20, 2022

Twitter Files Part 6: Twitter and the FBI's Intimate Relationship

“Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary,” said Matt Taibbi in the latest Twitter Files.

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Written by Hudson Crozier

The scoop: The FBI and Twitter sent over 150 combined emails to each other between January 2020 and November 2022. Some involved the FBI seeking information for criminal investigations while many were about censoring “election misinformation.”

Why it matters: The files further illustrate the federal government’s close relationship with Twitter as a censorship tool before Elon Musk’s takeover. Agent Elvis Chan, who drove censorship on multiple platforms, even sent a “Happy New Year” to Twitter Trust and Safety Chief Yoel Roth, reminding him of an upcoming “quarterly call” with him. The FBI has been under fire repeatedly in recent years for overt partisanship.

Politically motivated: Its contact with Twitter often involved the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, which was created in 2017 while the bureau pushed the hoax of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The bureau helped Twitter to hunt down content it considered disfavorable—including joking tweets from accounts with few followers—and label it as “misinformation” and a threat to national security.

Questions remain: We still don’t know who drove Twitter’s decision to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story under its “hacked materials” policy. Agent Chan has testified that intelligence officials didn’t mention Hunter Biden when warning Twitter about Russian cyber threats, but Roth said he was specifically warned of a “hack-and-leak operation [that] would involve Hunter Biden.”

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