The Twitter Files have become a controversial topic of discussion, shedding light on the inner workings of the social media giant. This collection of emails and messages between Twitter employees has revealed the company’s policies and decision-making processes, including some of its most notable decisions.
One of the most significant revelations in the Twitter Files is the controversial decision to ban former President Donald Trump’s account. Additionally, the decision to block a news story about Hunter Biden’s laptop in 2020 has also been exposed. The files have also revealed how Twitter censors accounts that violate their rules.
Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, American journalists and authors, recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the Twitter Files. It is believed that Twitter owner and CEO, Elon Musk, periodically give exclusive information to a small group of journalists who then leak the details from their Twitter accounts.
What happened in the House hearing on Twitter Files?
On Thursday, a fiery hearing was held by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, during which journalist Matt Taibbi was asked to reveal his sources under oath. Taibbi refused to disclose his sources, prompting several Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee to share their thoughts on the matter.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who also chairs the select subcommittee, expressed his surprise at the fact that Democrat members of Congress asked journalists to divulge their sources. Jordan praised Taibbi and fellow journalist Michael Shellenberger as “sharp individuals,” but the key takeaway, according to Jordan, was the request for journalists to reveal their sources. Jordan further criticized the Democrats for their disregard for the First Amendment, calling their questions “frightening.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who sits on the select subcommittee, echoed Jordan’s sentiments, stating that he was disappointed but not surprised that so many Democrats had shown disdain for free speech and a free press. Issa emphasized the importance of preventing censorship by the government and called on the committee to craft legislation to ensure that it never happens again.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., expressed his disappointment with the Democrats’ actions during the hearing. Van Drew claimed that the Democrats do not care about Americans’ First Amendment rights, and that it is frightening to think that members of the United States Congress would take no issue with the federal government trying to obtain personal identities of good, honest journalists.
Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, applauded Chairman Jordan for holding the hearing and promised to work with him and other Judiciary colleagues to investigate issues related to content censorship decisions with an anti-conservative bias by Big Tech companies.
The issue of sourcing was a sensitive topic during the hearing, as it had already come up when Taibbi was asked about his reporting on internal Twitter communications and accusations of government censorship. Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia asked Taibbi when Elon Musk first approached him to participate in the “Twitter Files” project. Taibbi refused to disclose this information, citing the need to protect his sources. Garcia continued to press the issue, leading Taibbi to reiterate that he could not disclose his sources.
Michael Shellenberger previously shared his written transcript of verbal testimony
Before the house hearing, Michael Shellenberger shared his thoughts on Twitter Files and his verbal testimony in Public. The writing starts like this:
Over the last three months, a small group of independent journalists, including Leighton and I, have, thanks to the Twitter Files, exposed the ways in which social media platforms have, under pressure from U.S. government agencies, censored ordinary Americans and spread disinformation.
Today, at 10 am ET, journalist Matt Taibbi and I will testify before Congress and reveal the existence of a secret censorship-industrial complex in the United States.
What is on the latest Twitter Files?
The latest batch of information was released on March 2, 2023, and one of the most significant revelations was the involvement of a U.S. government-funded company called DFR Labs. The company communicated with Twitter and sent lists of accounts they believed needed to be censored for various reasons. This included 40,000 accounts accused of Hindu nationalism and 5,500 accounts believed to be used for Chinese-backed manipulation.
However, the Twitter Files showed that executives found these lists to be inaccurate because they were full of Americans with no ties to either Hinduism or the Chinese government. For instance, three of the accused accounts belonged to CNN employees. DFR Labs has countered these accusations on its website.
This development has sparked debates among supporters and critics of Twitter. Supporters argue that the information being released shines a light on how a government-funded company could impact Twitter content. On the other hand, critics argue that Twitter is a private company that has full control over how the platform operates.
You may check out the latest talks within the Twitter Files in Matt Taibbi‘s tweet series below.
2. “MONITOR ALL TWEETS COMING FROM TRUMP’S PERSONAL ACCOUNT/BIDEN’S PERSONAL ACCOUNT”
When #TwitterFiles reporters were given access to Twitter internal documents last year, we first focused on the company, which at times acted like a power above government. pic.twitter.com/IK1VWewVoW
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 9, 2023
Twitter’s influence over society
Twitter has had a tumultuous time lately, with Elon Musk taking over the platform in late 2022. Musk has made changes to the popular social media app, which he believes could potentially result in positive cash flow in the second quarter of the year. The platform reports that it has 253 million daily active users.
Despite Twitter’s high engagement levels, it only ranks as the 15th most popular social media platform, with Facebook and YouTube topping the list. According to the Pew Research Center, around one in five adults use Twitter. Polling also shows that 69% of adult Twitter users in the U.S. get news on the site, and a third of them say Twitter has increased their stress levels.
Twitter is also crucial for politics. Another Pew Research poll shows that a third of tweets from U.S. adults are political. As far as politicians go, Twitter allows them to directly communicate with their constituents and voters.
The Twitter Files have is said to bring to light significant issues surrounding the social media giant, including the involvement of a U.S. government-funded company in censoring Twitter content. The platform’s decision-making processes and policies have been exposed, sparking debates among supporters and critics.
Twitter remains a crucial platform for news and politics, with high engagement levels among adults in the U.S. Despite this, it lags behind other social media platforms in terms of popularity.