On December 2, journalist Matt Taibbi tweeted about Twitter’s censorship of the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, published just three weeks before the 2020 presidential election.
Elon Musk had been hinting that information from Twitter would be released soon. He bought the social media company for $44 billion, with the sale completed in October of this year, and then gave Taibbi permission to review and reveal internal Twitter documents.
In a 37-tweet thread titled, “The Twitter Files,” in which he promised more installments would follow, Taibbi wrote:
The platform, he wrote, was supposed to give people “the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” But Twitter developed “tools” to “combat spam and financial fraudsters,” and Taibbi wrote:
Some of those requests came from Republican and Democrat organizations, but Taibbi reported:
Taibbi then shifted to telling “How and Why Twitter Blocked the Hunter Biden Laptop Story.”
Twitter shut down The Post’s account and blocked all users from linking to the story. The company even shut down White House spokesman Kaleigh McEnany’s account – 20 days before the election.
Twitter public policy executive Caroline Strom sent an internal email asking what was going on with the unprecedented actions. She received a reply saying the laptop story was blocked “for violating our Hacked Materials policy.”
The ban of The Post story brought questions from employees and from those outside the company. Even the FBI got involved, with former Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker advising the company to maintain the ban, “because ‘caution is warranted,’” that is, the laptop “may have been hacked.”
The thread from Taibbi goes on to discuss Democrat congressman Ro Khanna reaching out to Gadde to discuss the “backlash” at the U.S. Capitol over Twitter’s suppression of free speech and “violation of the 1st Amendment principles.”
Carl Szabo, with the research firm NetChoice, let Twitter executives know that “both Democrats and the Republicans were angry” with Twitter’s shutdown of the Hunter Biden laptop story – but for different reasons.
Republicans were upset that Twitter shut down The Post story, but according to Szabo, “The Democrats were in agreement: social media needs to moderate more because they’re corrupting democracy and making all ‘truth’ relative.”
Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar and professor of law at George Washington University Law School, wrote an opinion piece at The Hill about the Twitter revelations, stating, “Obviously, bias in the media is nothing new to Washington.”
But he went on to explain that Twitter was not a news outlet, but a “a platform for people to communicate with each other on political, social and personal views.” Turley added, “Censoring communications on Twitter is more akin to the telephone company agreeing to cut the connection of any caller using disfavored terms.”
Such censorship, with government agency involvement, undermines freedom of speech and may lead to a congressional investigation.
After “The Twitter Files” were released, The Post reported that Musk has said there are “more smoking guns” to be revealed.