For days Twitter owner Elon Musk had teased a massive explosive disclosure based on internal company documents that he claims would reveal “what really happened” inside Twitter when he decided to temporarily remove a 2020 New York Post article on Hunter Biden and his laptop.
But on Friday, instead of releasing a trove of documents to the public, Musk’s big reveal pointed to a series of tweets from journalist Matt Taibbi, who had received emails largely corroborating what was already known about the incident. .
Attracting thousands of retweets, Taibbi’s meandering tweet thread reaffirmed how, in the first hours after the Post’s story was published, Twitter employees feared it was the result of a scam operation. russian hack.
It showed employees from Twitter’s legal, policy and communications teams debating — and sometimes disagreeing — over whether to restrict the article as part of the company’s policy on pirated materials, weeks before the news. 2020 elections, where Joe Biden, the father of Hunter Biden, ran against the then president. Donald Trump.
While some questioned the basis for the decision and warned that Twitter would spark allegations of anti-conservative bias, others within the company, including senior officials, said the circumstances surrounding the The Post’s story was unclear and advised caution, according to screenshots of internal communications. shared by Taibbi.
(The then-CEO Jack Dorsey — who Taibbi said was not involved in the decision — told U.S. lawmakers that in hindsight suppressing the story was a mistake.)
The emails obtained by Taibbi match what former Twitter Site Integrity Officer Yoel Roth told reporter Kara Swisher during an onstage interview earlier this week. During that interview, Roth said he believed at the time that the Post report bore the hallmarks of a Russian hack and leak operation, an assessment shared at the time by dozens of former officials. American intelligence. Roth did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Taibbi’s posts undermined a major claim by Musk and Republicans, who accused the FBI of relying on social media companies to suppress Hunter Biden’s laptop stories.
Musk tweeted Friday night, amid Taibbi’s posts, that Twitter acted “under government orders.”
Taibbi said in his series of tweets that “there is no evidence – that I have seen – of any government involvement in the laptop story”.
Lawyers for Facebook’s parent company Meta have made similar comments in recent weeks, challenging Republicans’ claims that the FBI coerced Facebook into deleting the Laptop Stories.
Taibbi said the documents he reviewed referenced the FBI’s general warnings about possible Russian interference in the election, which is also consistent with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public account of the management. by Facebook from the New York Post story and claims how high alert Twitter was for possible foreign interference. .
Following the post’s removal, Taibbi said a Democratic congressman, California Rep. Ro Khanna, wrote to Twitter’s chief legal officer suggesting it was a bad look and a departure from to the ideals of the First Amendment to suppress a news story containing details that affect a president. candidate. Khanna noted in the email that he was saying this even though he was a “total Biden supporter.” Khanna did not respond to a request for comment.
The tweet thread also highlighted how officials from both political parties regularly wrote to Twitter asking for specific tweets to be removed. Taibbi included a screenshot of an email from the “Biden team” asking to delete tweets. A review of those tweets by CNN on an archive site showed alleged photos of Hunter Biden, including nudity, which may have violated Twitter policy.
Taibbi said contacts with political parties came more frequently from Democrats, but provided no internal documents to support his claim. He also did not say that Democrats had asked Twitter to remove the story from the Post, nor did his account suggest that the US government ever pressured Twitter to remove the story.
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