WASHINGTON — Dozens of former national security officials have gone to work for Facebook and Twitter after leaving government service, raising concerns about the influence of their onetime agencies over the social media giants.
At Twitter alone, at least eight former FBI agents work at the company’s so-called “trust” and “security” divisions — including its product policy manager Greg Anderson, who previously worked on “psychological operations” at the National Security Council, The Post has learned. Another is Matthew Williams, the company’s co-lead of its Trust and Safety department who spent more that 15 years in intelligence with the agency.
The discovery of the DC-to-Silicon Valley pipeline comes amid an outcry over revelations that the FBI influenced Twitter to suppress The Post’s account over its reporting on Hunter Biden’s overseas business interests in October 2020 and has regularly demanded specific accounts and tweets be banned.
Multiple releases of internal company documents since Dec. 2 show Twitter developed a close working relationship with the intelligence community, which frequently leaned on them to censor political speech.
The migration from the intelligence services is particularly pronounced at Facebook’s parent company, Meta, where at least nine former CIA agents and six former intelligence employees at other federal agencies are or have been employed.
Jim Hanson, president of information warfare analysis and consulting firm WorldStrat, told The Post Meta took a particular interest in bringing G-men and woman on board after the 2016 presidential election.
“The ones who are ideologically aligned with the woke left saw the danger of Trump and they wanted to affect that and the way they could be most influential was taking over our shared information space,” he said. “And they moved to the socials. And they were successful.”
“The ability of Americans to get information that doesn’t go through a leftist lens doesn’t exist,” he added. “You cannot ask a question online that doesn’t come back to you with a leftists filtered answer.”
Meta’s top policy manager for “misinformation,” Aaron Berman, is a former CIA senior analytics manager who spent 15 years with “The Company” — even writing the president’s daily briefings.
Others include Scott Stern, Meta’s senior manager for trust and safety risk intelligence, who spent more than seven years with the FBI leading “high-stakes operational determinations for complex and ambiguous overseas counterterrorism operations,” according to his LinkedIn page.
Stern joined Meta in January 2020 to help develop algorithms to combat “misinformation,” as well as more traditional FBI bailiwicks like child safety and counterterrorism.
Still another is Facebook senior strategist for “creator equity and well-being” Corey Ponder, who describes in his LinkedIn profile how he spent more than six years at the CIA — the majority of which was spent as a “senior targeting analyst.”
That job entails identifying and assessing “vulnerabilities and technology trends, uniting technical operations and development activities to collect intelligence against our nation’s threats,” according to a CIA hiring website.
Other former CIA employees include Bryan Weisbard, Meta’s director of privacy strategy and operations; Kris Rose, a member of its governance point-person on its oversight board project from March 2020 to October 2021; and Hagan Barnett, a former CIA contractor who leads “harmful content operations” at Meta, according to LinkedIn.
It’s not just Meta’s policy makers who have intelligence ties; some of their top tech people do as well.
Cameron Harris, Meta’s “workflow risk project manager,” previously spent four years as a CIA analyst. On Thursday, he posted on LinkedIn Thursday that he was “honored” to be featured in articles exposing former intelligence operatives that work for social media entities now.
“If only my high school civics teacher … could see me now!” he wrote.
Mike Torrey spent more than eight years with the CIA as a senior analyst “leading analysis and efforts to counter cyber threats,” before joining Meta in September 2018 as a security engineer investigator.
And in March 2022, Amarpreet Ghuman joined Meta to work in “product integrity” and “elections” after six year as a FBI analyst.
“With this many former intelligence people, it’s like Big Tech are basically just becoming … extensions of the intelligence community,” said Bill Ottman, founder and CEO of the social media platform Minds. “It’s just not appropriate.”
According to Ottman, while a single job candidate’s past government work would not preclude him from hiring the person, the apparent trend of hiring shadowy former government figures troubles him.
“If some former intelligence official came to try to work for us, I would probably just say no, just because why is it even worth the risk?” he said. “Why would I want to worry about some sort of back channel happening?
“Not every former intelligence employee is going to continue a relationship with the CIA after they’ve left, but you just don’t know.”
Having swaths of senior social media employees with ties to federal intelligence agencies risks not only free speech, but also privacy and potentially national security, Ottman argued.
“On Twitter, for instance, all the [direct messages] are open to all of the moderators,” he said. “There’s heads of state that DM on Twitter, politicians DM on Twitter. To have some random social media employee have access to that or potentially the intelligence community have direct access to that is also a huge issue.”
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