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Elon Musk Reveals Company Targeted Political Candidates’ Accounts

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Twitter CEO Elon Musk has announced that new product features are coming to the social media platform.

The second part of Musk’s “Twitter Files” was released on Thursday night and exposed the social media platform’s practices of secretly “blacklisting” certain tweets and users. Many users responded by asking if action had been taken against their accounts since journalist Bari Weiss only gave a few examples of high-profile figures like Charlie Kirk and Dan Bongino.

“Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal,” Musk tweeted.

Musk also said Twitter will “start freeing the name space of 1.5 billion accounts” in the near future, adding, “These are obvious account deletions with no tweets & no log in for years.”

Musk responded to a question from conservative writer Ian Miles Cheong, who asked whether “any political candidates — either in the US or elsewhere — [were] subject to shadowbanning while they were running for office or seeking re-election.”

“Yes,” Musk said.

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Musk’s “Twitter Files” was released on Thursday night and exposes the social media platform’s practices of secretly “blacklisting” certain tweets and users.

“A new #TwitterFiles investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” Weiss began her thread on Thursday. She was sharing the information.

“Twitter once had a mission ‘to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.’ Along the way, barriers nevertheless were erected,” Weiss wrote. She pointed to Stanford University’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a longstanding opponent of COVID groupthink during the pandemic expressing opposition to lockdowns.

“Twitter secretly placed him on a ‘Trends Blacklist,’ which prevented his tweets from trending,” Weiss reported.

Weiss highlighted that Fox News host Dan Bongino was placed on a “Search Blacklist” and had Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk on “Do Not Amplify.”

“A new #TwitterFiles investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” she wrote.

“The group that decided whether to limit the reach of certain users was the Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team, or SRT-GET. It often handled up to 200 cases a day.”

“But there existed a level beyond official ticketing, beyond the rank-and-file moderators following the company’s policy on paper. That is the Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support, known as SIP-PES.”

“This secret group included Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust (Vijaya Gadde), the Global Head of Trust & Safety (Yoel Roth), subsequent CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, and others. This is where the biggest, most politically sensitive decisions got made. Think high follower account, controversial, another Twitter employee told us. For these there would be no ticket or anything. One of the accounts that rose to this level of scrutiny was @libsoftiktok —an account that was on the “Trends Blacklist” and was designated as Do Not Take Action on User Without Consulting With SIP-PES,” she wrote.

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Musk revealed on Tuesday that Twitter’s former Deputy General Counsel James Baker was “exited” from the company after revelations about his alleged role in the platform’s handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story.

Over the weekend, journalist Matt Taibbi published internal communications from Twitter’s top brass in October 2020 about how to combat the New York Post’s publication of materials about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

“In light of concerns about Baker’s possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue, he was exited from Twitter today,” Musk tweeted in response to Taibbi, who shared a story from famed legal scholar Jonathan Turley.

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Twitter’s internal communications at the time show that Baker was involved in discussions about whether the laptop falls under Twitter’s “hacked materials” policy.

“I support the conclusion that we need more facts to assess whether the materials were hacked,” Baker wrote in one email chain. “At this stage, however, it’s reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted.”

Here’s more on Baker’s background, as noted by Fox Business:

Before joining Twitter, Baker also worked as general counsel at the FBI, where he was a key figure in the bureau’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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Attorney Michael Sussmann met with Baker in 2016 and presented “purported data and ‘white papers’ that allegedly demonstrated a covert communicates channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which is based in Russia. Sussmann was accused of telling Baker that he was not doing work “for any client” but later billing the Hillary Clinton campaign for the work. Sussmann was acquitted earlier this year on one count of making a false statement to the FBI.

Baker was also personally involved in the FISA warrant application to surveil Carter Page, who was working as an aide to former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The application relied heavily on the discredited “Trump dossier.” Baker later admitted that his role in the Page FISA application was unusual.

Musk made headlines recently when he revealed that he won’t “ever again” sign autographs in public because of threats to his life. During a live session on the social media website, Musk was discussing the “Twitter Files” and made a concerning admission that he was concerned about his safety.

“Frankly the risk of something bad happening or literally even being shot is quite significant. I’m definitely not going to be doing any open-air car parades, let me put it that way,” Musk said. “It’s not that hard to kill me if somebody wanted to, so hopefully they don’t.”

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