Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ ignite division but don’t change minds:- It was billed as a bombshell: Elon Musk, after sifting through internal files from his new company, will finally uncover how Twitter engaged in “free speech suppression” in the significant run-up to the 2020 election.
But by the time the dust had settled on Saturday, even some conservatives were complaining that it was a waste. Musk’s Twitter files produced by No Smoking Gun showed the tech giant had bowed to the wishes of the Democrats.
A handful of 2020 screenshots, posted in an unrelated, nearly 40-tweet thread over the course of two hours Friday evening, on the San Francisco company’s decision to restrict sharing of a controversial New York Post story about the son of then-Democratic Show while arguing. Presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Twitter threads based on internal communications posted by Substack writer Matt Tibby showed the company independently decided to limit the article’s spread, without Democratic politicians, the Biden campaign, or the FBI taking control of the social media network.
In fact, the only input from a sitting politician that Taibbi noted was from Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna (D), who asked Twitter executives to let him distribute the story regardless of the potential consequences for his party. needed.
Jamil Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said in an interview, “I’m not sure these bombs are close to detonation.”
Online mobs descended on the Twitter activists over the series, threatening them and circulating their photos online.
Former Twitter trust and security chief Joel Roth, who was among the employees named in the tweets, said “publicly posting the names and identities of front-line employees involved in content moderation harms them and is fundamentally unacceptable.” said in a social media post.
Kasturi, Tabby, and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Musk admitted on a Twitter Space audio chat on Saturday afternoon that it made some mistakes, including “a few cases where I think we should have excluded some email addresses”.
“The idea is to clear up what happened in the past to build public confidence for the future,” Musk said during the Twitter space. Musk said he joined via a Starlink satellite connection from his private jet.
Elon Musk also criticized media coverage of the files.
“Instead of admitting they lied to the public, they’re trying to pretend it’s nothing,” he said. “shame on them.”
Kasturi and Taibbi both tweeted that they would reveal more details in a second chapter on Saturday. Musk also said on Space that he shared the documents with another Substack author, Bari Weiss, and suggested he might share them with the public in the future.
The spectacle capped off another week of chaos on Twitter, with Musk’s “Chief Twit” meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday afternoon and reporting about the rise of hate speech on the Twitter platform.
He also drew attention for suspending rapper Yeh, who tweeted an image of a swastika with the Star of David. The relaunch of the paid check mark system, expected for Friday, was delayed again, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision.
During the Twitter space, Musk said, “I personally wanted to punch Kanye,” describing how Ye’s swastika post was inciting violence. He said that they have decided to suspend him
Musk’s “free speech” agenda has defined his turbulent acquisition of Twitter, as he has argued from the early days of the deal that the platform serves as a “genuine city square” where people can “come freely within limits.” able to speak.” Law.”
He has claimed the company has a “strong left-wing bias.” And in recent days, he has pardoned several previously suspended accounts, including those linked to far-right influencers and the QAnon extremist ideology. people are involved.
Although Musk has said he agrees with some Democratic Party and some Republican policies, he is increasingly turning to the GOP. Before the midterm elections, he encouraged millions of his followers to vote Republican. And he recently said he would support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (right) in a possible 2024 presidential bid.
Musk’s promotion of internal screenshots, including the names of employees, is largely unprecedented, and he has repeatedly said he will bring transparency to the platform.
Tabby said he had to “agree to certain conditions” in exchange for the opportunity to cover the files in a message to his Substack customers, asking for their patience and acknowledging that his customers might be upset that the information was first published on social media. appears on the network.
On Friday night, Musk retweeted a thread by Taibbi that focused on Twitter’s decision in the lead-up to the 2020 election to share articles on material allegedly leaked from Hunter Biden’s laptop. was to prevent.
The New York Post story alleged that the emails showed he gave the Ukrainian executive an “opportunity” to meet with the former vice president.
Biden’s campaign and Hunter Biden’s attorney at the time denied that any such meeting took place, and the White House pointed to previous denials, which The Washington Post investigated in detail.
The Post later confirmed the veracity of thousands of emails from the device, citing experts, and Hunter Biden used it as a basis to explore other business arrangements being pursued in China.
In a November 2020 congressional hearing, then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company had erred in limiting the article’s dissemination under its policy against the dissemination of hacked content, a 2018 rule aimed at protecting personal privacy.
To discourage unauthorized exposure of information. Dorsey said the company considered the feedback and changed its policy on hacked content.
Facebook took similar steps, sending out third-party fact-checkers to limit the story’s spread beforehand.
The measures taken by Twitter to restrict sharing of the New York Post story were highly unusual, posting warnings that it could be “unsafe” and locking accounts that shared it, including the newspaper and then White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany was involved.
The move drew widespread criticism from conservatives, who used the controversy as ammunition for their claims that tech companies censor their viewpoints.
According to screenshots from Taibbi, most of which could not be independently verified by The Post, Twitter received an angry email from a Donald Trump campaign staffer asking when and how the company should delete McEnany’s account. Will be unlocked, need to reply on this.
The Trump campaign email was forwarded internally, and a staffer explained that the account was “bounced” for violating the hacked content policy. Mike Hahn, a former Trump staffer who signed the email, praised Musk for bringing transparency to Twitter with the release of the document.
“It certainly feels great to be proven right regarding Twitter’s war on free speech,” he said.
Taibbi also shared screenshots showing communications staff asking Twitter executives for guidance on how they should interpret the decision. One staffer expressed concern that the action would become the focus of a Capitol Hill hearing where Dorsey was scheduled to appear.
Khanna, a Silicon Valley Democrat, approached then-Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde with an offer to discuss the “overwhelming response to the Pahari Ray speech”. Gadde responded by saying that the company had taken out a Twitter thread explaining the decision.
Khanna responded by saying that the move appeared to be a “violation of First Amendment principles”. He added, “But in the heat of a presidential campaign, restricting the circulation of newspaper articles (even if the NY Post is very correct) seems like it will invite more backlash than it will do good.”
Khanna’s office confirmed the veracity of the email. In response to the release of his personal emails, Khanna reiterated his support for the First Amendment.
“Yeah, it’s a bit of a hassle for me, but I’ve taken proper security measures,” he said.
According to Taibbi, both political parties had access to tools to flag content on Twitter for review, and the company “received and honored” requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign.
Responding to a tweet with a fire emoji, Musk highlighted a specific exchange in which a Twitter employee says he “took over” the review of flagged tweets from the Biden team. Internet Archive records show that the tweets included apparently nude photos of Hunter Biden.
Friday night’s incident – which began about an hour after Musk said he was doing additional fact-checking – drew a mixed response.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson called it “one of the most extraordinary moments in social media history” and the New York Post called it “the Hunter Biden laptop bombshell” in a headline. #TWITTERGATE continued to trend in the US on Saturday.
But the thread left some Twitter critics wanting more.
“Look, I think we’ve seen enough that’s useful. It’s not really the smoking gun that we hoped for,” said New York Post columnist Miranda Devine on Carlson’s show. Musk “withheld some material.”
Sebastian Gorka, a former deputy assistant to Trump, tweeted, “So far I’m so overwhelmed.”
The whole episode further escalated the tension between Musk and the employees of the company he handled.
“We’re furious,” said one recently departed employee. “It is absolutely disgusting that they would release names to the public. This could cost someone a life.”
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