The documents reveal widespread internal and external concern at the suppression of the story, a decision made without CEO Jack Dorsey’s knowledge and spearheaded by Vijaya Gadde, then the head of Trust & Safety — Twitter’s top censor.
The thread is ongoing at the time of this writing and can be found here: The documents, mostly internal communications from Twitter and emails with external parties, showed widespread unease with the decision and concerns about how it could be explained to lawmakers and the public. Several key points from the thread so far: Aside from Rep. Khanna’s communications, which imagined a future in which newspapers would be unable to publish hacked evidence of war crimes, other Democrats reportedly complained that Twitter had not gone far enough in its censorship of the press. “Khanna was the only Democratic official I could find in the files who expressed concern,” said Taibbi. An email from Carl Szabo, one of the tech industry’s top lobbyists in D.C., told Twitter that Democrat lawmakers he spoke to in the aftermath of the decision all believed “social media needs to moderate more,” and complained that the Hunter Biden story had been allowed to travel as far as it did. Szabo summarized the concerns of Democrats: “They let conservatives muddy the water and claim the Biden campaign look corrupt even though Biden is innocent.” When pushed on how government might legally press social media companies to censor, Democrat lawmakers reportedly said “the First Amendment isn’t absolute.” This lines up with what Democrats attempted to do after Biden took office: use the power of the federal government to force more censorship on social media, including the infamous “disinformation governance board” of DHS.
The Biden administration is now facing lawsuits from Republican attorneys general arguing it used its power to undermine the First Amendment. In Congress, Democrats are still trying to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), a bill that would create a cartel of largely pro-censorship media companies with the power to impose arbitration agreements on tech companies. Democrats, with the surprising backing of some Republicans, are now trying to force the bill through in a defense spending package, even as conservative senators warn it will increase censorship and further bias social media platforms towards the legacy media. According to a former Twitter employee who spoke to Taibbi, the decision was poorly thought through, saying “they just freelanced it.” According to the employee, it wasn’t long before “everyone knew this was f***ed.” Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.
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