Twitter Files 7.0: FBI paid $3.4 million to Twitter, made top executives dub Hunter Biden laptop story as ‘Russian disinformation’

US President Joe Biden with his son Hunter, representational image, via BBC

On Monday (December 19), the seventh tranche of internal communication between Twitter employees was released on the micro-blogging platform.

Dubbed the ‘Twitter Files 7.0’, it exposed how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) paid a whopping $3.4 million to Twitter between October 2019 and February 2021 and coerced top Twitter executives into gutting the ‘Hunter Biden story‘ of the New York Post (NYP).

The story, shared by author Michael Shellenberger, exposed how the federal agency was quick to discredit the revelations about Hunter Biden’s dealings as ‘Russian disinformation’, a move which impacted the result of the 2020 US Presidential elections.

At the very onset, Michael Shellenberger said, “In Twitter Files #7, we present evidence pointing to an organized effort by representatives of the intelligence community (IC), aimed at senior executives at news and social media companies, to discredit leaked information about Hunter Biden before and after it was published.”

It must be mentioned in the last weeks of the 2020 US presidential elections, the New York Post published an explosive story about Hunter Biden’s problematic emails with a Ukrainian gas company executive from Burisma.

In its report, the news outlet alleged that they had accessed material from a damaged Macbook that was brought to a service centre for repair. The customer who brought the laptop never collected or paid for the services.

The shop owner said he repeatedly tried to contact the client. Though he could not identify the owner as Hunter Biden, he said the laptop had Beau Biden Foundation’s sticker.

The report had several documents and mentioned a video that proves that Joe Biden met a high-profile businessman from Ukraine when he was Vice President of the United States. 

Despite issuing a subpoena and taking possession of the laptop, the FBI did not get back to the repair shop owner. As such, he submitted a copy of the data to Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who handed it over to the New York Post.

“Hunter and Mesires had just learned from the New York Post that its story about the laptop would be published the next day,” Michael Shellenberger noted. Immediately, the FBI intervened and sent a set of 10 documents to Yoel Roth (former Global Head of Trust & Safety).

So far, the ‘Twitter Files’ has exposed how Roth justified the censorship of the infamous ‘Hunter Biden story’. He was also seen patting himself on the back for quickly censoring Donald Trump. 

Author Michael Shellenberger noted how the New York Post story was censored within hours of its publication on October 14, 2020. “…Preventing it from spreading and, more importantly, undermining its credibility in the minds of many Americans. Why is that? What, exactly, happened?” he continued.

Despite tens of millions worth of foreign dealings by Hunter Biden, the Federal Bureau of Investigation repeatedly forced top Twitter executive Yoel Roth to classify the explosive story as “Russian hack and leak” operation.’

It must be mentioned that in August this year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed how the FBI directed the social media giant to censor the Hunter Biden story.

“The FBI basically came to us [and] was like, ‘Hey… you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. There’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that’,” Zuckerberg told Joe Rogan.

Author Michael Shellenberger pointed out that the claim of ‘Russian disinformation’ in the Hunter Biden story was not based on new intelligence reports.

“Through our investigations, we did not see any similar competing intrusions to what had happened in 2016,” FBI agent Chan was seen admitting to the fictitious claims in ‘Twitter Files 7.0’.

Internal communication between top Twitter employees and the FBI showed some degree of scepticism in the former about sweeping claims of foreign-controlled bots. In one case, Yoel Roth was seen turning down the request of the federal agency with respect to the latter’s assertion of foreign influence in a pro-Trump tweet.

The ‘Twitter Files 7.0’ also revealed how the top Twitter guns were under a lot of pressure from the FBI to censor tweets as per their whims and fancies.

“Time and again, FBI asks Twitter for evidence of foreign influence & Twitter responds that they aren’t finding anything worth reporting,” author Michael Shellenberger had emphasised.

In a bid to lure top Twitter executives, one FBI agent Elvis Chan arranged for their ‘temporary’ Top Secret Security Clearances. The author noted, “…So that the FBI can share information about threats to the upcoming elections.”

By 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was actively involved in Twitter affairs so much so that they created their own “private Slack channel and a crib sheet to onboard new FBI arrivals.”

Michael Shellenberger informed that Twitter Safety Head, Yoel Roth, participated in “tabletop exercise” on a potential “Hack-and-Dump” operation pertaining to the New York Post story on Hunter Biden.

“The goal was to shape how the media covered it — and how social media carried it,” he emphasised.

The ‘Twitter Files 7.0’ revealed that FBI agent Chan and Twitter executive Yoel Roth also set up an ‘encrypted messaging network’ for communication. The internal chats exposed that the duo agreed to create a virtual war room for the FBI and the Office of National Intelligence.

Interestingly, the sixth tranche of Twitter Files also revealed 150 email exchanges between the FBI and Yoel Roth during the period of January 2020 and November 2022.

It must be noted that former Deputy General Counsel James Baker, who was fired by Elon Musk, had insisted that the Hunter Biden story was based on ‘fake or hacked’ materials and thus constituted a violation of Twitter policy.

This was despite the fact that the original New York Post article included the image of the original receipt signed by Hunter Biden, not to forget the FBI subpoena that his laptop was in the possession of the federal agency.

Michael Shellenberger posted screenshots of the internal communication between Twitter employees, wherein they were mulling censoring the Hunter Biden story. Interestingly, on the same day, Jim Baker had arranged for a telephonic meeting with the Office of the General Counsel of the FBI.

“The influence operation persuaded Twitter execs that the Hunter Biden laptop did *not* come from a whistleblower,” remarked Michael Shellenberger.

He further added, “There is evidence that FBI agents have warned elected officials of foreign influence with the primary goal of leaking the information to the news media. This is a political dirty trick used to create the perception of impropriety.”

He also pointed out, “In the end, the FBI’s influence campaign aimed at executives at news media, Twitter, & other social media companies worked: they censored & discredited the Hunter Biden laptop story. By Dec. 2020, Baker and his colleagues even sent a note of thanks to the FBI for its work.”

The ‘Twitter Files 7.0’ also revealed how the Federal Bureau of Investigation paid a whopping $3,415,323 to Twitter Inc. for their ‘staff time’ between October 2019 and February 2021.

Once the FBI was able to gain its foothold on Twitter, it held frequent meetings with the top executives and directed them to produce more and more ’emergency disclosure requests (a form of warrantless search).’

“Anyone who reads the Twitter Files, regardless of their political orientation, should share those concerns,” concluded Michael Shellenberger.

Twitter Files 3.0 also revealed the influence of the FBI on Twitter employees

On December 9, the third tranche of confidential conversations between top Twitter executives was released on the micro-blogging platform which also exposed the influence of FBI on Twitter. 

The ‘Twitter Files 3.0’ revealed that the senior executives of Twitter Inc. were in constant touch with federal agencies ahead of the 2020 US Presidential elections.

It revealed how the Federal Bureau of Investigation routinely sent tweets, posted by Republican candidates, to the moderation team for expunction.

Matt Taibbi informed that Twitter began enforcing rules arbitrarily and using pretexts to justify their actions. Following the US Capitol riots, the meetings between top Twitter employees and federal agencies intensified.

Matt Taibbi unearthed how the mindset of top Twitter executives evolved between late 2020 and early 2021. He informed that a channel titled ‘us2020_xfn_enforcement’ was created to discuss the censorship of high-profile accounts (also called Very Important Tweeters) in the context of US elections.

The ‘Twitter Files 3.0’ exposed how the likes of Vijaya Gadde (former Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust at Twitter) and Yoel Roth (former Global Head of Trust & Safety) were making decisions based on whims and fancies.

“The latter group were a high-speed Supreme Court of moderation, issuing content rulings on the fly, often in minutes and based on guesses, gut calls, even Google searches, even in cases involving the President,” journalist Matt Taibbi noted.

He also added that the duo was “clearly liaising with federal enforcement and intelligence agencies about moderation of election-related content”.

Dibakar Dutta: Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at