Elon Musk is known for stoking controversies on new fronts, at the same time he is known for reminding his followers that he owns the Twitter now, that means he controls every aspect of the company. This time he deliberately revealed sensitive and internal communication between Twitter officials around Hunter Biden’s personal computer files in the fall of 2020.
Earlier this week, Musk teased the release of what he called “The Twitter Files,” declaring that the public “deserves to know what really happened” behind the scenes during Twitter’s decision to stifle a story about Hunter Biden back in 2020.
On Friday evening, Musk delivered, sort of a sensational expose. Elon shared a thread from an author and substack writer Matt Taibbi who is apparently now in possession of the trove of internal documents, which he opted to painstakingly share one tweet at a time, in narrative form.
The internal company discussions, which predate Musk’s ownership, offer insight on the dissent and confusion inside Twitter as it responded to the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s files in the closing weeks of the last presidential campaign.
Musk teased the event hours before it began to spill out in Taibbi’s tweets, promising, “This will be awesome,” and suggested he was personally involved in its preparation.
“We’re double-checking some facts, so probably start live tweeting in about 40 mins,” Musk tweeted as users waited for the promised disclosures. His latest controversial move came before the dust had settled from his last one, which saw Musk block Ye’s account after the rapper tweeted, “I like Hitler.”
Twitter suppressed the Hunter Biden’s Story
Part 1 of Twitter Files reveals the conversations around the censorship of a story published in the New York Post. The report spilled details about the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop.
Taibbi claimed that the social media company has taken some extraordinary steps to suppress the story from The New York Post. The censorship involved removing links and posting warnings calling it “unsafe.” In his tweet, Taibbi said, “They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography.”
Taibbi posted screengrabs of conversations between some of the former Twitter executives including names like former policy head Vijaya Gadde and former Trust and safety chief Yoel Roth. There’s clear discord between some executives regarding the policy behind the censorship of The New York Post story on Hunter Biden.
The suppression and censorship of the story attracted a lot of criticism from the White House Office that was occupied by Donald Trump. Taibbi said, “White House spokeswoman Kaleigh McEnany was locked out of her account for tweeting about the story, prompting a furious letter from Trump campaign staffer Mike Hahn.”
Twitter Public policy executive Caroline Strom showed some signs of concern regarding the censorship of the post and the details around it. Taibbi tweeted, “Caroline Strom to send out a polite WTF query. Several employees noted that there was tension between the comms/policy teams, who had little/less control over moderation, and the safety/trust teams.”
The policy team at Twitter responded to Strom’s comment by claiming that the story went against the company’s “hacked materials” policy. Taibbi revealed the decisions were taken at the highest levels of the company without former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey’s knowledge.
He wrote, “The decision was made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with the former head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde playing a key role.”
2 Indian Americans at the center of Hunter Biden’s Laptop story
2 Indian Americans Congressman Ro Khanna and Vijaya Gadde were the prominen figure in US, found themselves at the center of Hunter Biden’s Laptop story.
Ro Khanna is the Democratic Congressman representing Silicon Valley in the US House of Representatives, while Gadde, an attorney, served as general counsel and the head of legal, policy, and trust at Twitter, before she was fired by Elon Musk.
According to the information released by Taibbi, Khanna appears to have questioned the decision of Twitter to restrict access to an investigative report of the New York Post newspaper on the laptop of Hunter. Khanna in a confidential email to Gadde opposed the so-called censorship by Twitter.
“I say this as a total Biden partisan and convinced he did not do anything wrong. But the story now has become more about censorship than relatively innocuous emails and it’s become a bigger deal than it would have been,” Khanna wrote to Gadde.
“In the heat of a presidential campaign, restricting dissemination of newspaper articles (even if New York Post is far right) seems like it will invite more backlash than it will do good,” Khanna wrote to Gadde and requested her not to share the text of their emails. Khanna said that such a move by Twitter seems to be a violation of the 1st Amendment principles.
In response to Khanna’s email, Gadde defended Twitter’s policy and its decision on the Post story. “We put out a clarifying threat of Tweets earlier this evening to explain our policy around the posting of private information and linking directly to hacked materials,” she wrote.
“The press secretary’s account was not permanently suspended – we requested that she delete the tweet containing material that is in violation of our rules and her account is restricted until she complies,” Gadde wrote to Khanna.
“Slowly, over time, Twitter staff and executives began to find more and more uses for these tools. Outsiders began petitioning the company to manipulate speech as well: first a little, then more often, then constantly,” Taibbi wrote.
“By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: ‘More to review from the Biden team.’ The reply would come back: ‘Handled,'” he noted.
According to Taibbi, both parties had access to these tools.
This isn’t over yet, Twitter Files 2.0 will be released tomorrow
It seems Elon is all set to expose the so called interference of Twitter in Governance and Election process by using its biased policies.
Elon has promised that Episode 2 of the Twitter Files will be released tomorrow. Although, we don’t know what exactly it could be, but one thing is for sure that Elon has got the power to change the narrative single-handedly. Such expose will certainly dent the trust of people in Twitter, but at the same time such honest admissions will help Elon in securing credibility for his new business, that it Twitter.