In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, FBI agents would hold “weekly” meetings with Big Tech company Twitter to discuss content moderation, eventually leading to the agency warning the platform of so-called “hack-and-leak operations” by foreign “state actors” shortly before the company censored the Hunter Biden laptop story on these grounds.
The New York Post reports that these claims come from a sworn declaration by Yoel Roth, the former head of integrity for Twitter, filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on December 21st, 2020.
“I was told in these meetings that the intelligence community expected that individuals associated with political campaigns would be subject to hacking attacks and that material obtained through those hacking attacks would likely be disseminated over social media platforms, including Twitter,” Roth’s statement revealed. “I also learned in these meetings that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden.”
Roth’s statement was revealed as part of Twitter’s defense against a complaint, filed by the Tea Party Patriots Foundation, alleging that the platform’s censorship in favor of Hunter Biden ultimately constituted an “in-kind” campaign contribution to Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency.
These warnings led to Twitter’s unprecedented decision to censor the Post’s story almost immediately after it first broke on October 14th, 2020. Falsely labeled as “Russian disinformation,” anyone who attempted to post the original URL link in a tweet or private message would be automatically blocked from sending the post. The New York Post was also temporarily banned in the days following the story’s publication.
These new revelations from Roth also line up with a story told earlier this year by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during an interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast. In August, Zuckerberg told Rogan that Facebook had been approached by FBI agents who told them to be on “high alert” for a “dump” of “Russian propaganda” in the final weeks before the 2020 election. As a result, Facebook also took steps to censor the post by altering the algorithms to reduce sharing capabilities for any posts featuring the story.
On Friday, journalist Matt Taibbi posted a lengthy Twitter thread, with the approval of Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk, detailing the extent of Twitter’s systematic censorship of conservatives, including the process that led to the censoring of the Hunter Biden laptop story. The thread included screenshots of email and text message exchanges between Twitter employees and the Biden campaign, with the former agreeing to do the latter’s bidding by censoring any posts the campaign found problematic. But the laptop story crossed a line that had even some Twitter employees worried about Free Speech violations, Democratic lawmakers also privately voicing their concerns.