On Thursday morning, the House subcommittee investigating the “weaponization” of the federal government will listen to journalists who were granted access to Twitter’s internal communications.
Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger are scheduled to testify before the subcommittee. They will be presenting their findings from the “Twitter Files,” which were internal communication logs provided to them by Twitter CEO Elon Musk shortly after he purchased the social media company. The logs are being explored as part of an investigation into alleged collusion between social media companies and the executive branch.
On December 2, Taibbi released the initial portion of the Twitter Files, which revealed how the social media company handled the New York Post’s article about Hunter Biden’s laptop. In the third batch of files, he disclosed the internal deliberations leading up to the suspension of former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Additionally, in the sixth release of files, Taibbi disclosed how the FBI reported certain accounts to Twitter’s Trust and Safety team for alleged misinformation.
Shellenberger published the fourth part of the Twitter Files, which detailed how Twitter employees responded to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, and how their actions contributed to the decision to ban Trump. In the seventh part, Shellenberger reported on Twitter’s communication with intelligence agencies to suppress the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Before the hearing, Taibbi shared his prepared statement on his Substack.
“The original promise of the Internet was that it might democratize the exchange of information globally. A free internet would overwhelm all attempts to control information flow, its very existence a threat to anti-democratic forms of government everywhere.
What we found in the Files was a sweeping effort to reverse that promise and use machine learning and other tools to turn the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control. Unfortunately, our own government appears to be playing a lead role.
We learned Twitter, Facebook, Google and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation ‘requests’ from every corner of government: the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at State, even the CIA. For every government agency scanning Twitter, there were perhaps 20 quasi-private entities doing the same, including Stanford’s Election Integrity Project, Newsguard, the Global Disinformation Index and others, many taxpayer-funded.
A focus of this fast-growing network is making lists of people whose opinions, beliefs, associations or sympathies are deemed ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation’ or ‘malinformation.’ The latter term is just a euphemism for ‘true but inconvenient.’
Undeniably, the making of such lists is a form of digital McCarthyism.”
Taibbi cited the COVID lab leak theory as an example of the risks posed by the weaponization of the federal government. He noted that the theory was initially forbidden, but it is now accepted even by the FBI.
1. TWITTER FILES:
Statement to Congress
THE CENSORSHIP-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX pic.twitter.com/JLryjnINXS
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 9, 2023
Democrats are criticizing the hearing as a partisan spectacle, despite having their own members on the panel. The list of witnesses for the next upcoming hearing has not yet been confirmed.