Twitter's Double Standards: Censorship and Propaganda Exposed
What are the Twitter Files and what have they revealed so far?
Twitter's mission was once “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
But when Elon Musk took over late last year he made internal documents and communications public to investigative journalists. The revelations are being released in a series of exposés called the Twitter Files which spit on any notion of Twitter's once noble ideals.
This post delves into some of the most shocking discoveries revealed so far:
Censoring evidence of Hunter Biden's corruption
Shadow banning of conservative and anti-lockdown accounts
Censoring the Covid narrative
Pushing military propaganda
1. Hunter Biden’s laptop
During Trump’s 2020 election campaign, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani obtained a copy of Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s hard drive which contained damning evidence of misdeeds and corruption. The Trump camp was confident this was the golden ticket to winning the election. What the camp didn’t anticipate, however, was the FBI colluding with big tech to bury the story.
In December 2019, a computer store owner in Delaware contacted the FBI about a laptop Hunter Biden had brought in to be repaired but didn't return to collect. Within days, the FBI seized the device.
Frustrated with radio silence for almost a year, the computer repairman sent the evidence to Guiliani. Guiliani who was under FBI surveillance at the time gave it to the New York Post leading to the bombshell revelation of Hunter Biden's laptop contents on October 14, 2020.
What did the laptop reveal?
Amongst the videos of drug-fuelled sex parties and questionable selfies, we are going to focus on the much less exciting files such as photos, emails and text messages relating to business dealings in Ukraine and China.
Hunter served on the board of Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, at the same time his father was in office as Vice President of the USA. Despite having no relevant credentials, he was reportedly paid $50,000 per month by the company. It was suggested this cosey position was given to him in an effort to gain influence over the US government.
“Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company.”
One email from Hunter indicated he was receiving a whopping $10 million annual fee from a Chinese billionaire for “introductions alone”. Another refers to a deal involving China's largest energy company with a cryptic mention of "10 held by H for the big guy“.
How was it censored?
We now know that the FBI repeatedly primed Twitter to dismiss reports of the laptop as a Russian ‘hack and leak‘ operation, with no evidence to substantiate that claim.
Within hours of the New York Post’s bombshell article, Twitter censored the post. This crippled any traction of the story's spread and undermined its credibility, fuelling claims that it was a right-wing conspiracy theory.
Twitter wasn’t the only social media company to censor the news; Mark Zuckerberg revealed the same thing occurred at Facebook when he appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
No criminal charges have been brought against Hunter yet. But, that’s not surprising given even the FBI was trying to bury the evidence. Unless Hunter is the real-life Harvey Specter, it's difficult to explain how a drug-addict lawyer with no credentials justified such staggering sums. Leveraging the big guy’s position as Vice President would clearly be a huge conflict of interest the public should be aware of.
2. Shadow bans
Many accounts blowing the trumpet about Biden's laptop were shadow banned.
Shadow bans occur when an account is deceptively hidden or de-ranked on social platforms in order to suppress its ability to grow and influence others. The account still exists, but might not show up on followers’ feeds anymore.
Conservative users on Twitter have a long history of complaining about shadow banning, much to the annoyance of others, who mock them for subscribing to a conspiracy theory to justify the fact people just don’t like their content.
I wish I had that excuse for my account.
Twitter staunchly denied such a practice. They released an article in 2018 called ’Setting the record straight on shadow banning‘ in which Vijaya Gadde, the head of Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety stated “We do not shadow-ban.” And added: “And we certainly don’t shadow-ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
In that same year, Twitter's not-so-talkative founder, Jack Dorsey, testified to Congress under oath that shadow banning was not occurring:
Shadow banning under a banner
We now know that Twitter did indeed shadow ban accounts, especially conservative ones, although they preferred to refer to it as ‘Visibility Filtering’ (VF). The team responsible for doing so was called the ‘Strategic Response Team-Global Escalation Team’ (SRT-GET) - so catchy...
Visibility filtering methods included:
Blocking searches of individual accounts
Limiting the discoverability of specific tweets
Blocking tweets from trending
Excluding tweets from hashtag searches
Internal Twitter communications and documents revealed that SRT-GET was responsible for deciding who to VF and handled up to 200 cases per day.
Some of their victims include:
Dan Bongino: conservative commentator, author and podcast host
Charlie Kirk: conservative commentator and founder of Turning Point USA
Dr Jay Bhattacharya: epidemiologist and professor of medicine at Stanford University who criticised Covid lockdowns
3. Covid ‘misinformation’
Bhattacharya wasn't the only victim when it came to Covid-related censorship. Internal files at Twitter revealed that government officials under both Trump and Biden regularly pressured Twitter to elevate certain Covid-related tweets and suppress others.
Trump’s administration held meetings with Big Tech platforms to try to tackle panic buying at the onset of the pandemic by controlling so-called misinformation. While it’s true that panic buying was worsened by headlines, censorship is a slippery slope of a solution.
The slippery slope indeed got slipperier when the Biden administration took aim at so-called anti-vaxxers. Shortly after Biden accused social media companies of ‘killing people’ prominent vaccine critic, Alex Berenson was removed from the platform. When Berenson sued and Twitter settled, documents were revealed to show that direct pressure from the White House led to his removal from the platform - they should have hired Hunter Biden.
Twitter went on to suppress the views of countless doctors and scientists that contradicted the narrative of the US government or CDC. This caused legitimate findings relevant to the debate to go unheard.
One of many such examples is Dr Martin Kulldorff. The Harvard epidemiologist had his tweet labelled as misinformation and all interactions cut off, preventing it from being shared and seen by millions.
His statement was an expert’s opinion, and one that was in line with the vaccine policies of many other countries around the world. His crime, however, was being at odds with the left-wing views of Twitter employees, as well as the US government.
4. Pentagon propaganda
Twitter was certainly less concerned about misinformation when it helped the Pentagon with a secret propaganda campaign in the Middle East. Despite claiming for years that they "make concerted efforts to detect and thwart gov-backed platform manipulation", Twitter gave approval and special protection to the US military’s online psychological influence operations, also known as PsyOps.
Internal documents revealed that Twitter worked hand in hand with the US to give blue tick verified status to fake accounts that would tweet frequently about military priorities in the region. The propaganda included anti-Iran messages, promoting the Saudi Arabian war in Yemen, and reporting on ‘accurate’ US drone strikes which claimed to only hit terrorists.
We have been warned for years about the dangers of foreign government interference through Twitter. The US is currently considering whether to ban TikTok for the same reasons. Does the US have a leg to stand on when it is engaging in the very practices it so often accuses everyone else of?
A dystopian nightmare
It’s not every day that a freedom-championing billionaire buys a social media monopoly. The Twitter files have probably only unveiled the tip of the iceberg. Imagine if we took a look under the hood of Facebook, Google, and the rest of them.
If the establishment is willing and able to deceive the masses for what they consider to be the greater good, this sneak peek drums up a whole swathe of worrying questions:
Where does this slippery slope end?
What does it mean for freedom of speech?
How does it influence elections?
It feels a bit like we’re living in a George Orwell novel.
Action must be taken to increase transparency and remove bias from monopolistic social media platforms. Government agencies and corporate executives should be held accountable. Political censorship should be nipped in the bud.
Looks like Twitter's motto should be changed to "sharing ideas... with a side of censorship and propaganda."