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Twitter Files 9.0: CIA and FBI frequently interfered in content moderation of the social media platform

Twitter executives started losing track of meetings and calls, with the FBI and other central agencies, due to the high frequency of such calls.

On Saturday (December 24), independent journalist Matt Taibbi released yet another tranche of ‘Twitter Files’ which exposed how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) routinely interfered in the content moderation of the social media platform.

At the same time, he pointed out how top Twitter executives started losing track of meetings and calls, with the FBI and other central agencies, due to the high frequency of such calls.

Matt Taibbi also revealed how CIA officials operated under the secret euphemism of ‘Other Government Agency (OGA) and rubbished claims, made by the FBI, to cast aspersions on the integrity of the ‘Twitter Files’.

He noted, “The files show the FBI acting as the doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government – from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA.”

Matt Taibbi added, “Twitter had so much contact with so many agencies that executives lost track. Is today the DOD, and tomorrow the FBI? Is it the weekly call, or the monthly meeting? It was dizzying.”

He further emphasised, “A chief end result was that thousands of official ‘reports’ flowed to Twitter from all over, through the FITF and the FBI’s San Francisco field office.”

The independent journalist also unearthed an internal communication between FBI agent Elvis Chan and Twitter employees wherein the former was seen referring to 2 CIA personnel as ‘Other Government Organisation (OGA)’ officials.

The ‘Twitter Files 9.0’ show how several emails, dating back to 2020, made explicit mention of OGA for meetings between Twitter employees and the Foreign Influence Task Force (constituted to fight Russian disinformation).

“OGA, or “Other Government Organization,” can be a euphemism for CIA, according to multiple former intelligence officials and contractors. Chuckles one: “They think it’s mysterious, but it’s just conspicuous,” Matt Taibbi pointed out.

The constant involvement of the CIA in special meetings with top Twitter executives became apparent when one employee named Stacia Cardille wrote to another executive Jim Baker about the virtual presence of the agency’s officials at ‘Info Ops Conference.’

After the CIA got its foothold into the moderation team of the social media platform, there was an exponential increase in ‘intelligence reports’ about supposed foreign interference campaigns on Twitter.

Matt Taibbi pointed out, “The government was in constant contact not just with Twitter but with virtually every major tech firm. These included Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest, and many others. Industry players also held regular meetings without government.”

The ‘Twitter Files’ also showed how requests for ‘review’ (read censorship) of tweets kept on piling as the 2020 US Presidential elections approached. “Email after email came from the San Francisco office heading into the election, often adorned with an Excel attachment,” noted Matt Taibbi.

He added, “Twitter executives noticed the FBI appeared to be assigning personnel to look for Twitter violations.” In one internal Twitter conversation, top executives were seen discussing how the federal agency had been searching for ‘Twitter violations’ using keywords.

“This is probably the 10th request I have dealt with in the last 5 days,” Twitter employee Stacia Cardille had lamented.

Matt Taibbi noted that the Twitter moderation team willingly complied with the requests sent by the FBI office, despite the voluminous content sent by the federal agency.

The independent journalist said, “It seemed to strike no one as strange that a “Foreign Influence” task force was forwarding thousands of mostly domestic reports, along with the DHS, about the fringiest material.”

“The Twitter Files show executives under constant pressure to validate theories of foreign influence – and unable to find evidence for key assertions,” he emphasised.

Matt Taibbi cited examples where top Twitter executives initially found no prima-facie violation of rules or alleged Russian interference but gave to constant demands by the FBI (to the extent of brainstorming on finding a stronger Russian connection for the expunction of tweets).

“Many people wonder if Internet platforms receive direction from intelligence agencies about moderation of foreign policy news stories. It appears Twitter did, in some cases by way of the FITF/FBI. These reports are far more factually controversial than domestic counterparts,” he said.

The Twitter Files also showed how the FBI and other government agencies severely restricted the independence of Twitter’s decision-making process.

“The line between “misinformation” and “distorting propaganda” is thin. Are we comfortable with so many companies receiving so many reports from a “more aggressive” government?” concluded Matt Taibbi.

Earlier, the ‘Twitter Files 7.0’ exposed how the 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 ‘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.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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