(HorizonPost.com) – A new batch of published Twitter Files demonstrates how Twitter capitulated to the intelligence community.
According to a report, Twitter was not seen as a significant player in spreading so-called Russian disinformation during the summer of 2017. This changed when the company was held accountable for allegedly being one of Russia’s most potent weapons in its efforts to promote Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Clinton said it was time for Twitter to stop dragging its heels and live up to the fact that its platform is being used as a tool for cyber-warfare.
Journalist Matt Taibbi published the new Twitter files, which show how the intelligence community exploited fears of Russian election meddling to gain access to Twitter and influence policy.
Following Clinton’s remarks that the platform was a hotbed for Russian disinformation, Twitter formed a “Russia Task Force” to self-investigate, most likely to demonstrate to Washington that they did not require external regulation.
The “Russia Task Force” began with Facebook data, focusing on accounts allegedly linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), an organization known for creating and using divisive social media accounts. However, the search yielded no results, with one message stating that the investigation discovered a lot of benign content and that further research was required.
An October 2017 report discovered 15 high-risk accounts, three of which were linked to Russia, though two were linked to Russia Today. Twitter later changed its criteria for what was considered suspicious. More suspicious accounts were flagged, but only 32 were found, and only 17 were linked to Russia.
The lack of findings from the Russia Task Force landed the company in a PR crisis.
Reports show Congress continued to pressure Twitter with costly legislation, and Twitter began to face more bad press fueled by the committees.
One email discusses how this may have affected Twitter’s political advertising. On September 23, 2017, Colin Crowell sent a message with a long piece from the Washington Post today about potential legislation or new FEC regulations that could affect political advertising.
Taibbi writes that Twitter would eventually change its stance in response to increased pressure from the press and Congress. It removed content at its discretion in public, and it would “off-board” anything identified by the United States intelligence community as a state-sponsored entity conducting cyber-operations in private.
The pressure doesn’t give Twitter a pass. They went along with it willingly.
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