Friday night, writer Matt Taibbi obtained internal Twitter talks about suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story from Elon Musk.
The records show that inside and outside Twitter, there was worry about the decision to bury the story, which was done by the former head of Trust & Safety, Vijaya Gadde, without CEO Jack Dorsey’s awareness. At the time of this writing, the thread may be found here.
The records, which consisted mainly of Twitter’s internal discussions and correspondence with external parties, revealed broad unhappiness with the move and questions about how it could be justified to politicians and the public.
Here are a few highlights from the discussion thus far:
The decision to scrub the laptop report on Hunter Biden was made without consulting CEO Jack Dorsey.
Trust and Safety head Vijaya Gadde, who has been blamed for censorship at the corporation for a long, was the driving factor behind the decision.
Prominent Twitter workers, particularly those in the communications and policy teams responsible for maintaining ties with politicians and the press, have voiced their displeasure with the company’s decision.
Twitter’s connections in Washington D.C. immediately sent warnings, including a message from Democratic representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), who said the decision had produced “massive outrage” on capitol hill and voiced worries about Twitter hurting the freedom of publication.
Other Democrats claimed that Twitter had not gone far enough in its control of the press, despite Rep. Khanna’s statements imagining a future in which media could not publish hacked proof of war crimes.
Among the Democratic Party officials cited in the papers, “Khanna was the only one who showed alarm,” Taibbi claimed.
One of the computer industry’s senior lobbyists, Carl Szabo, emailed Twitter that following the ruling, the Democratic politicians he contacted all agreed that “social media has to filter more,” expressing dismay that the Hunter Biden tale was able to spread as far as it did.
“They let Republicans pollute the water and claim the Biden campaign looks crooked even if Biden is innocent,” Szabo said, summing up the worries of Democrats.
Democrat senators allegedly responded to questions about how the government might lawfully pressure social media corporations to restrict by saying, “the First Amendment isn’t absolute.”
This is consistent with Democratic efforts when Biden’s administration assumed office when they sought to utilize federal power to impose further control on social media through mechanisms like DHS’s infamous “disinformation governance board.” Republican state attorneys general are suing the Biden administration, claiming it violated the First Amendment by suppressing free speech.
Democrats are still pushing the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) through Congress, which would provide a group of media organizations who favor censorship the ability to force tech firms to sign arbitration agreements.
Even though conservative senators warn it would enhance censorship and further tilt social media platforms towards the legacy media, Democrats, with the surprise backing of some Republicans, are now seeking to drive the bill through in a Pentagon budget package.
A former Twitter employee who talked with Taibbi said the choice was poorly considered because “they simply freelanced it.”
The worker claimed that “everyone knew this was f***ed” rather quickly.