The former Twitter executive who led the team tasked with deleting reports on Hunter Biden’s laptop had been warned by US intelligence and law enforcement to be on the lookout for operations of “hacking and leaking” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Yoel Roth, a former site integrity manager for Twitter, said the warnings were issued during weekly meetings between the social media companies and officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and from the FBI.
“I was told at these meetings that the intelligence community expects individuals associated with political campaigns to be subject to hacking attacks and that material obtained through these hacking attacks is likely to be broadcast on social media platforms, including Twitter,” Mr. Roth wrote in the December 2020 statement to the Federal Election Commission.
Roth said he also learned in meetings with federal officials, which he described as occurring regularly since 2018, of “rumors that a hack and leak operation involved Hunter Biden.”
“These expectations for hack and leak operations have been discussed throughout 2020,” he wrote.
Mr Roth filed the statement in response to a lawsuit against Twitter by the Tea Party Patriots Foundation, alleging the company made an improper contribution to President Biden’s campaign by removing the laptop cover from its platform. .
Roth’s statement aligns with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s admission last August that the FBI warned Facebook about “Russian propaganda” operations in the run-up to the election.
“Basically, the context here is that the FBI, I think, came to us – some people on our team and said, ‘Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. … We thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election,” Zuckerberg told podcast host Joe Rogan.
“We have been informed that basically there is about to be some kind of dump similar to that. So just be vigilant,” Zuckerberg said, adding that he regretted deleting the story.
Last week, Twitter owner Elon Musk began posting a deluge of internal company documents showing what led the company to remove posts sharing the Hunter Biden laptop story from the New York Post just weeks before the 2020 presidential election.
The ‘Twitter Files’, exposed in a lengthy thread by freelance journalist Matt Taibbi, described how Twitter went to great lengths to remove the laptop story, calling it ‘dangerous’ and preventing users to share links to the story via direct message.
The Biden campaign called the now authenticated laptop Russian disinformation in response to the Post’s reports.
This explanation was also peddled in an open letter by more than 50 former senior US intelligence officials and by social media platforms which, acting on FBI warnings about the authenticity of the laptop, began censoring the online discussions on the laptop before the presidential election of 2020. .
Twitter executives decided the content should be blocked because they couldn’t determine if the laptop’s hardware had been hacked.
“‘They just got it independent,’ is how a former employee called the decision,” Mr Taibbi wrote. “Hacking was the excuse, but within hours pretty much everyone realized it wasn’t going to stick. But no one had the courage to reverse it.
Internal documents released on Friday do not cite any specific influence from government officials leading to the removal of the story on the platform.
But as Roth’s 2020 disclosure makes clear, Twitter’s decision may have been influenced, at least in part, by warnings from US intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
The newly released documents have revived accusations that Big Tech’s political censorship helped President Biden win the 2020 election.
It also fueled House Republicans’ plans to fight collusion to suppress conservative views.
“Now we have to start looking at Facebook, Google. These have now become weapons of the Democratic Party, weapons of the Biden administration,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Mr McCarthy said the deluge of documents that Mr Musk publicly questioned the role of the dozens of current and former intelligence officials who called Hunter Biden’s laptop a “Russian information operation”.
“They also used the intelligence community to lie to the American public,” he said. “Should these people keep their clearances? Should these people still be allowed to have information? If they are politicians, then no, they shouldn’t. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what we need to investigate in the future.