The FBI paid Twitter nearly $3.5 million of taxpayer cash to ban accounts largely linked to conservative voices and target so-called “foreign influence” operations, the latest installment of the “Twitter Files” revealed on Monday.
In an email dated Feb. 10, 2021, an unidentified Twitter employee told then-deputy general counsel Jim Baker and then-general counsel Sean Edgett that “we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!”
The email, published by independent journalist Michael Shellenberger, explained that Twitter’s Safety, Content & Law Enforcement (SCALE) division had instituted a “reimbursement program” in exchange for devoting staff hours to “processing requests from the FBI.”
The message added that Twitter had opted not to exercise its right of reimbursement prior to October 2019, though it did not say why.
The email notes that the funds will be used by Twitter on “[law enforcement]-related projects” including “LE training, tooling, etc.”
The reports by Shellenberger and fellow independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, have revealed extensive collaboration and employee overlap between Twitter and the FBI, who Taibbi reported last week treated the social media company as a “subsidiary” and repeatedly reported supposed “misinformation.”
In the sixth installment of the Twitter Files, published Friday, Taibbi revealed that the bureau was so aggressive in sending Twitter “possible violative content” to review that an employee described one set of materials as a “monumental undertaking” that required several colleagues to pitch in and help.
On Monday, Shellenberger reported that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies repeatedly primed Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth to dismiss The Post’s bombshell October 2020 report on Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop as a Russian “hack and leak” operation.
The files reveal the FBI could communicate with top Twitter executives through multiple channels, including email accounts and specially built encrypted portals.
In some cases, Shellenberger noted, Twitter would probe cases presented by the bureau but come up empty, not finding evidence of a foreign influence campaign.
“[W]e haven’t yet identified activity that we’d typically refer to you (or even flag as interesting in the foreign influence context),” Roth informed FBI San Francisco Special Agent Elvis Chan in one email from May 31, 2020.
The FBI would also flag media articles on alleged foreign influence campaigns that Twitter would have to look into and debunk, “repeatedly” reporting “very little Russian activity,” according to Shellenberger.
“Time and again, FBI asks Twitter for evidence of foreign influence & Twitter responds that they aren’t finding anything worth reporting,” Shellenberger writes.
The FBI also made repeated requests for internal data from Twitter that the social media company refused to send over, citing privacy concerns.
As recently as August 2022, Twitter continued to work with the FBI, which pressured the company to disclose more sensitive information.
Baker and Edgett were fired after billionaire Elon Musk bought the social network in October.
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