“Here we are !” Elon Musk on Saturday welcomed the publication of the “Twitter files”, which he himself had announced and which the Republicans were impatiently waiting for. That same day, journalist Matt Taibbi revealed in 37 tweets what he claims were the contents of internal Twitter conversations at the time of the blue bird’s censorship of an article from New York Post about the contents of the computer of Hunter Biden, son of the President of the United States, in October 2020, three weeks before the American election.
These revelations, approved by Musk, are a way for the new owner of Twitter to stage the “freedom” he claims to return to the social network. But they also mark another turning point in the Hunter Biden affair, which e.g CheckNews had occasion to recall it in a recent article, has been a sea serpent in American political life for two years.
The story starts with a computer repairman from Delaware, John Paul Mac Isaac, who allegedly recovered Joe Biden’s son’s computer. In the computer, Mac Isaac would have found tax returns (while Hunter Biden is at the heart of an investigation for tax evasion) as well as intimate memories, amateur pornographic content involving the son Biden or even videos where the latter can be seen taking drugs. So much information that the Republican networks immediately tried to exploit… but which most mainstream media initially treated with great suspicion given the murky origins of the leak, the suspicion of a hack and the fear of an attempted manipulation in the last piece of the campaign. One exception though: New York Post, who quickly seized the matter, but whose article will be inhibited by Facebook and Twitter. Triggers accusations of censorship. Two years later, while the elements on which New York Post has been authenticated, so it is behind the scenes of this “obstruction” the Twitter files intend to lift.
At the time, Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, had quickly rejected the communication of the social network on the subject: “Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great. And block URL sharing via tweet or DM without context explaining why we’re blocking: unacceptable”he had written and forwarded published explanations via one of the official accounts of the blue bird. “Images in articles contain personal and private information – such as email addresses and phone numbers – that violate our rules”had justified the teams.
According to Taibbi, “Twitter took extraordinary steps to remove the story, removing links and issuing warnings that it could be ‘dangerous’. They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool until then reserved for extreme cases such as child pornography. The content of the exchanges reported by the journalist provides details of how this decision was made to prevent the circulation of content. Which, according to the journalist, was far from unanimous internally. She “was taken at the highest level of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey. Former head of legal, policy and trust, Vijaya Gadde [remerciée depuis par Elon Musk, ndlr]played a key role”, writes the journalist. According to a former employee, the suspicion is about “piracy”, for which there was no evidence, “was an excuse”. “In a few hours, almost everyone understood that it would not last. But no one had the courage to reverse their decision., would have explained this source. In particular, Marc Taibbi publishes several screenshots presented as emails written by senior Twitter officials questioning the decision to censor sharing of the article in New York Post.
“I have a hard time understanding how much of our policy allows us to mark this as uncertain. I think the best explanatory argument for this case externally would be that we are waiting to understand whether this story is the result of pirated materials.”, for example, former communications director Trenton Kennedy wrote, according to the screenshot. And to add: “We will be faced with difficult questions about this if we do not have a solid justification.”
“The problem with the ‘hacked documents’ verdict, according to multiple sources, is that it usually requires the hacking to be found by a government official or law enforcement agency. But such a finding never surfaced in what one executive described as a 24-hour ‘ whirlwind’ of chaos throughout the company., writes the journalist in his Twitter thread. Another problem, according to him: that all these decisions were made “Unaware of CEO Jack Dorsey and how long it took for the situation to ‘unlock’ […]even after Dorsey intervened”.
But it is in terms of political interference that the Twitter files were expected. Marc Taibbi reveals, for example, that Ro Khanna, a Democratic representative in Congress, concerned about this affair, wrote to Vijaya Gadde. In particular, the latter confirms that the account of White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany has indeed been temporarily suspended, as alleged by Donald Trump, for sharing the article in New York Post. Again, the stated reason is sharing of private and hacked data. But Taibbi also claims that both sides, the Biden campaign team as well as the Trump White House, used to ask for and have the tweets removed. Such requests were “ordinary”writes Taibbi, who however states that this system was not “balance”, because of the democratic affiliations of those responsible for the social network.
Trump condemns “massive fraud”
The elements shared by Matt Taibbi, which could not be independently verified by other media outlets, bring nothing really new to the substance of the case. But they provide material to feed the Republican narrative of political censorship (pro-Trump systematically forgets that the requests for intervention on the social network, according to the Taibbi report, were therefore also the action of the White House).
On Saturday, Donald Trump responded to Truth Social [son réseau social alternatif fondé après la suspension de son compte Twitter en 2021, ndlr] : “Do you trash the results of the 2020 presidential election and declare the rightful WINNER or do you have a NEW ELECTION? Massive fraud of this type and scale calls for the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution. “he wrote, according to the CNN transcript.
Another part of the upcoming Twitter files has been announced by Elon Musk.