Independent journalist Matt Taibbi put the "censorship-industrial complex" in a preview of his contentious testimony about his reporting on the Twitter Files.
He revealed there was a directive within Twitter to "monitor all tweets" from the personal accounts of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
"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. But Twitter was more like a partner to government," Taibbi wrote, sharing screenshots of internal emails from government agencies.. "With other tech firms it held a regular ‘industry meeting’ with FBI and DHS, and developed a formal system for receiving thousands of content reports from every corner of government: HHS, Treasury, NSA, even local police. Emails from the FBI, DHS and other agencies often came with spreadsheets of hundreds or thousands of account names for review. Often, these would be deleted soon after."
Taibbi noted one "disinfo" list in particular that was labeled "Iranian State Linked Accounts" which included an Iraq War veteran, a former Chicago Sun-Times reporter and the progressive news outlet Truthout. Others targeted "anti-Ukraine narratives" last year.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION DEMANDS ELON MUSK TO ‘IDENTIFY ALL JOURNALISTS’ WHO HAD ACCESS TO TWITTER FILES
"We came to think of this grouping – state agencies like DHS, FBI, or the Global Engagement Center (GEC), along with 'NGOs that aren’t academic' and an unexpectedly aggressive partner, commercial news media – as the Censorship-Industrial Complex," Taibbi wrote.
"Who’s in the Censorship-Industrial Complex? Twitter in 2020 helpfully compiled a list for a working group set up in 2020. The National Endowment for Democracy, the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab, and Hamilton 68’s creator, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, are key," he explained, adding, "NGOs ideally serve as a check on corporations and the government. Not long ago, most of these institutions viewed themselves that way. Now, intel officials, ‘researchers,’ and executives at firms like Twitter are effectively one team - or Signal group, as it were."
The Substack writer referred to the taxpayer-funded Aspen Institute's "Information Disorder" summit in August 2021 as the Censorship-Industrial Complex's "Woodstock," citing a report spearheaded by veteran TV host Katie Couric and DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency founder Chris Krebs alongside top executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google, which concluded that the government should "mandate disclosure of data" from social media companies, having a "holding area" for influencers guilty of so-called "bad behavior," demonetization and even "take steps to restrict false information, even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content."
WHAT ELON MUSK'S TWITTER FILES HAVE UNCOVERED ABOUT THE TECH GIANT SO FAR
"The #Twitter Files show the principals of this incestuous self-appointed truth squad moving from law enforcement/intelligence to the private sector and back, claiming a special right to do what they say is bad practice for everyone else: be fact-checked only by themselves," Taibbi told readers.
Taibbi put a spotlight on the Stanford Institute Observatory's "Election Integrity Partnership" (EIP) as being the most "voluminous" flagger of Twitter users, admitting at one point the project can have the "legal authorization" to do it as a non-government entity. A research manager separately boasted how "35%" of the posts it flagged to tech companies were addressed one way or another.
"It’s crucial to reiterate: EIP was partnered with state entities like CISA and GEC while seeking elimination of millions of tweets. In the #Twitter Files, Twitter execs did not distinguish between organizations, using phrases like ‘According to CIS[A], escalated via EIP,’" Taibbi wrote. "After the 2020 election, when EIP was renamed the Virality Project, the Stanford lab was on-boarded to Twitter’s JIRA ticketing system, absorbing this government proxy into Twitter infrastructure – with a capability of taking in an incredible 50 million tweets a day."
He then shared a screenshot of the Virality Project's recommendation to Big Tech on cracking down on "true content" that may promote vaccine hesitancy, which stated "viral posts of individuals expressing vaccine hesitancy, or stories of true vaccine side effects" may be considered "malinformation," defined as being exaggerated or misleading, instead of misinformation.
LATEST TWITTER FILES SHOW MEDIA, DEMS RELIED ON SINGLE SOURCE ALLEGING ‘RUSSIAN BOT’ ACTIVITY: ‘IT WAS A SCAM’
"None of the leaders of this effort to police Covid speech had health expertise," Taibbi pointed out. "This is the Censorship-Industrial Complex at its essence: a bureaucracy willing to sacrifice factual truth in service of broader narrative objectives. It’s the opposite of what a free press does."
He also knocked other tax-funded groups like New Knowledge's Birmingham Project, which falsely peddled claims of Russian influence in the Alabama Senate race in 2017, and the Alliance for Securing Democracy's Hamilton 68 project, writing, "Packaged as a bulwark against lies and falsehood, it is itself often a major source of disinformation, with American taxpayers funding their own estrangement from reality."
"The incident underscored the extreme danger of the Censorship-Industrial Complex. Without real oversight mechanisms, there is nothing to prevent these super-empowered information vanguards from bending the truth for their own ends," Taibbi wrote. "In the digital age, this sprawling new information-control bureaucracy is an eerie sequel to the dangers Dwight Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address, when he said: ‘The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists.’"
Taibbi alongside fellow Twitter Files colleague Michael Shellenberger testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.