In response to the highly consequential censoring of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story, Democrats contend that the backlash surrounding this decision confirms that society needs more moderation and censorship in order for democracy to thrive. After all, to them, “the First Amendment isn’t absolute.”
But free speech absolutist Elon Musk has something to say about that.
Last Friday, at the authorization of “Chief Twit” Elon Musk, veteran journalist Matt Taibbi published what is being called the Twitter Files. It revealed not only the eagerness of Twitter to advance campaign priorities of the Democrats and quash content that might help Republican electoral outcomes, but in such a manner that displayed the company’s policies were fully malleable—insofar as they could do the bidding of the Left.
The thread reveals what one might expect. As Twitter gained more power, its moderation practices became more corrupt; and as its power became more absolute, free speech became less so. By 2020—though perhaps even earlier—tools that were created to control spam and financially fraudulent tweets were used prejudicially to erase speech the Biden team did not like.
Email threads illustrate that it was as simple as members of the Biden campaign contacting Twitter employees with accounts or posts they didn’t like, and hours later, the Orwellian reply from a Twitter employee would appear: “handled.” Connected actors sent requests to Twitter, many in the weeks and days leading up to the 2020 election, and were handled so censoriously by Twitter employees that Big Brother would be sure to promote them at the Ministry of Truth.
As Taibbi notes, these “connected actors” who had requests honored were overwhelmingly Democrat. For example, in the 2022 election cycle, 99.73% of political contributions were made to Democrats. This means that “because Twitter was and is overwhelmingly staffed by people of one political orientation, there were more channels, more ways to complain, open to the left than the right,” per Taibbi.
And then we have the Hunter Biden laptop story.
On October 14, 2020, just weeks before the 2020 election, the New York Post published its expose documenting the content of the abandoned Hunter Biden laptop. While we have known for some time that (1) the contents of this expose were true and deleterious to the Biden campaign and (2) that Twitter pulled out all the stops to suppress this story and punish those who shared it, we now know why and how this important piece of news was “deleted.”
Simply, Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council tried to fit a square peg in a round hole and call it good, arbitrarily applying highly narrow and specific moderation tools and policies to a completely unrelated situation. The arbiters of truth at Twitter said the story violated its Hacked Materials policy, which led one Twitter employee to say Twitter arrived at this decision because “they just freelanced it…hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it.”
Additional correspondence indicates that numerous Twitter employees were concerned that the move to censor pursuant to the Hacked Materials policy might be seen as a bold-faced lie. These conversations went up the chain, with former Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker saying, while Twitter does not have enough information to confidently conclude that the laptop expose stemmed from hacked materials, because there is even a slim chance it was hacked, Twitter could justify the heavy-handed censoring of content that had great consequences for the 2020 election.
(Perhaps it is worth noting that Jim Baker formerly served as general counsel at the FBI under the Trump presidency and was reassigned within the Bureau after being accused of being a source of the Steele dossier.)
As we already know—and as more is verified in forthcoming Twitter File dumps—this is just the tip of the iceberg. Elon Musk’s bid to introduce transparency and accountability into the opaque landscape of social media is of seismic importance—not just because of the evidence underscored above, but because it now means we have an actor who is willing to hold the technocrats and deep state swamp denizens to task. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, but there are plenty of remaining parasites.