Monday 19 December 2022

Even Twitter’s Censorship Chief Was ‘Perplexed’ By FBI Demands

 Former Twitter Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth was “frankly perplexed” by some of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) demands for the platform, according to newly released emails.

Veteran journalist Matt Taibbi tweeted out correspondence between Roth and San Francisco FBI Agent Elvis Chan as a supplemental thread to his “Twitter Files” report posted Friday.

Taibbi released emails from July 2020 from Chan to Roth with questions from the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) about state propaganda on the platform. The FITF appeared skeptical of Roth’s indication that he “had not observed much recent activity from official propaganda actors” on Twitter and sent him clarifying questions about his findings, Taibbi revealed.

Chan told Roth “there was quite a bit of discussion within the USIC to get clarifications from your company,” referring to the U.S. Intelligence Community, according to Taibbi. The FTIF included a bibliography of sources including public research and an article from The Wall Street Journal.

Roth sent the questionnaire to his team, telling them “I’m frankly perplexed by the requests here, which seem more like something we’d get from a congressional committee than the Bureau,” Taibbi reported.

Roth added “I’m not particularly comfortable with the Bureau (and by extension the IC) demanding written answers,” and asked coworkers how to “best navigate” the situation, according to Taibbi.

Taibbi tweeted Friday “between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth,” demonstrating how the FBI and other intelligence agencies flagged content for Twitter to act on.

Taibbi observed “Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary,” in his Friday “Twitter Files” report

An earlier “Twitter Files” report by The Free Press journalist Bari Weiss showed Roth’s support for “reducing exposure” to “misinformation” by expanding “visibility filtering” in private messages.

Roth pushed for suppressing then-President Donald Trump’s Tweets less than a week before the 2020 election and again after the 2020 election, Taibbi reported.

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