The release of internal communications in the ongoing series of “Twitter Files” reveals a government bent on propaganda and censorship—and a Big Tech industry willing to play along. With each new thread detailing the internal workings and cozy relationship between the Twitter team and our government, the political right screams louder of First Amendment violations.
The First Amendment cannot be the whole answer to the problem, however, and, in fact, may not have even been transgressed. Americans are right to be outraged, but the solution doesn’t rest in constitutional claims. The deepest solution is in a resurgence in the values of free speech and a free press.
“Twitter, The FBI Subsidiary” was the spot-on title independent journalist Matt Taibbi crafted for the thread he published two weeks ago detailing the hand-in-glove relationship between the FBI and Twitter. But as Taibbi’s Christmas Eve sequel, “Twitter And ‘Other Government Agencies,’” revealed, it wasn’t just the FBI using Twitter as a corporate underling, nor is it just Twitter the government appropriates for this purpose.
Rather, as Taibbi reported, the “Twitter Files” “show the FBI acting as doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government – from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA.” Beyond Twitter, “Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest, and many others,” as well as “industry players also held regular meetings” with the government, Taibbi revealed.
The internal documents released by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, also exposed the U.S. government’s use of Twitter, and by extension other social media giants, “to carry out a covert online propaganda and influence campaign” with the goal of shaping “public opinion in countries including Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Kuwait.”