Someone needs to go and wake up Sleepy Joe, because Twitter CEO Elon Musk is airing the social media company’s dirty laundry when it comes to #LaptopGate as if they were episodes on Netflix.
Musk has made good on his threat to reveal the internal communications at Twitter that led to management and ‘community safety’ actively killing the Hunter Biden laptop story, tweeting: ‘Tune in for Episode 2 of The Twitter Files tomorrow!’
‘Episode 1’ of the data dump was made via journalist Matt Taibbi’s Twitter account, @mtaibbi, in a series of tweets that start:
What you’re about to read is the first instalment in a series, based upon thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter.
The ‘Twitter Files’ tell an incredible story from inside one of the world’s largest and most influential social media platforms. It is a Frankensteinian tale of a human-built mechanism grown out the control of its designer.
Twitter in its conception was a brilliant tool for enabling instant mass communication, making a true real-time global conversation possible for the first time.
In an early conception, Twitter more than lived up to its mission statement, giving people ‘the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers’. As time progressed, however, the company was slowly forced to add those barriers.
Some of the first tools for controlling speech were designed to combat the likes of spam and financial fraudsters.
Slowly, over time, Twitter staff and executives began to find more and more uses for these tools. Outsiders began petitioning the company to manipulate speech as well: first a little, then more often, then constantly.
By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: ‘More to review from the Biden team.’ The reply would come back: ‘Handled.’
Celebrities and unknowns alike could be removed or reviewed at the behest of a political party. Both parties had access to these tools. For instance, in 2020, requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honoured.
However: this system wasn’t balanced. It was based on contracts. Because Twitter was and is overwhelmingly staffed by people of one political orientation, there were more channels, more ways to complain, open to the left (well, Democrats) than the right.
The resulting slant in content moderation decisions is visible in the documents you’re about to read. However, it’s also the assessment of multiple current and former high-level executives.
Okay, there was more throat-clearing about the process, but screw it, let’s jump forward. The Twitter Files, Part One: How and Why Twitter Blocked the Hunter Biden Laptop Story…