On Tuesday, the eleventh and twelfth installments of the Twitter Files highlighted the role that Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) played in censoring conservative accounts on the platform.
As reported by Fox News, the two back-to-back threads posted by journalist Matt Taibbi revealed that Twitter “received an astonishing variety of requests from officials asking for individuals they didn’t like to be banned.” One example was in November of 2020, when Schiff’s office emailed Twitter demanding the banning of several “QAnon conspiracists” on Twitter, which they claimed were responsible for “harassment” against Schiff aide Sean Misko.
“Remove any and all content about Mr. Misko and other Committee staff from its service- to include quotes, retweets, and reactions to that content,” said the email from Schiff’s office. “Suspend the many accounts, including @GregRubini and @paulsperry, which have repeatedly promoted false QAnon conspiracies.”
They further demanded that Twitter “stop the spread of future misinformation on Twitter” concerning committee staffers, and “label and reduce the visibility of any content.”
But, as Taibbi noted, “even Twitter declined to honor Schiff’s request at the time,” with the response from Twitter employees being “we don’t do this.” Paul Sperry, an investigative journalist with RealClearInvestigations, was eventually suspended for different reasons.
While the eleventh thread focused on Schiff, the twelfth thread shifted the focus to the State Department’s “Global Engagement Center” (GEC), described by Taibbi as the department’s “fledgling analytic/intelligence” branch. The GEC would often cite reports by the mainstream media in its private appeals to Twitter to ban certain accounts, starting with those allegedly spreading “misinformation” about COVID-19 immediately after the pandemic began.
“The GEC flagged accounts as ‘Russian personas and proxies’ based on criteria like, ‘Describing the Coronavirus as an engineered bioweapon,’ blaming ‘research conducted at the Wuhan institute,’ and ‘attributing the appearance of the virus to the CIA,’” said Taibbi. “State also flagged accounts that retweeted news that Twitter banned the popular U.S. ZeroHedge, claiming the episode ‘led to another flurry of disinformation narratives.’ ZH had done reports speculating that the virus had lab origin.”
Eventually, Taibbi said, Twitter began “taking requests from every conceivable government body, beginning with the Senate Intel Committee (SSCI), which seemed to need reassurance Twitter was taking FBI direction.”
“Execs rushed to tell “Team SSCI” they zapped five accounts on an FBI tip,” Taibbi continued, posting screenshots of the emails in question as proof. “Requests arrived and were escalated from all over: from Treasury, the NSA, virtually every state, the HHS, from the FBI and DHS, and more.”
The Twitter Files, which have been ongoing since December of last year, are Elon Musk’s flagship initiatives in his efforts to make Twitter more transparent and friendlier to free speech, following his acquisition of the company for $44 billion in October. Since taking over, he has gathered internal data revealing the full extent of Twitter’s censorship efforts over the last several years, and has released the evidence through Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and other independent journalists.