Throughout the month of December, there have been multiple releases of the so-called “Twitter Files” that have exposed how elements of the federal government, particularly the FBI, leaned on and pressured the social media platform to engage in censorious behavior.
The latest “Twitter Files” installment continued that trend with a focus on the platform’s censorship, at the urging of the federal government, of alleged “disinformation” and “misinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, and other related topics, the Daily Wire reported.
The online COVID debate was “rigged”
Journalist David Zweig, on behalf of the new independent outlet The Free Press, published a thread of tweets on Monday titled “HOW TWITTER RIGGED THE COVID DEBATE.”
That was accomplished by way of “censoring info that was true but inconvenient to U.S. govt. policy;” “By discrediting doctors and other experts who disagreed;” and “By suppressing ordinary users, including some sharing the CDC’s *own data*.”
Zweig revealed that the U.S. government, initially under the Trump administration but later under the Biden administration, “pressured Twitter and other social media platforms to elevate certain content and suppress other content about Covid-19” and that members of both administrations “directly pressed Twitter executives to moderate the platform’s pandemic content according to their wishes.”
5. Internal files at Twitter that I viewed while on assignment for @thefp showed that both the Trump and Biden administrations directly pressed Twitter executives to moderate the platform’s pandemic content according to their wishes.
— David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022
White House under Trump and Biden urged more content moderation
Zweig showed that the Trump White House, which also met with the other major social platforms, requested action against “misinformation” that might lead to “panic buying” at grocery stores — recall the inexplicable great toilet paper shortage of early 2020 — while the Biden White House pursued a more aggressive track by demanding action against “anti-vaxxer accounts,” such as journalist Alex Berenson and others.
Berenson, who later sued and settled with Twitter, had been suspended from the platform — and was permanently banned a month later — just hours after Biden had accused Twitter and Facebook of “killing people” by not censoring alleged “misinformation” about vaccines. That lawsuit by Berenson had exposed internal communications that showed how the Biden administration had explicitly demanded that he be “kicked off” the platform.
10. Berenson sued (and then settled with) Twitter. In the legal process Twitter was compelled to release certain internal communications, which showed direct White House pressure on the company to take action on Berenson.
— David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022
Biden White House “very angry” about insufficient censorship
Zweig also shared a snippet of a summary of White House meetings from Lauren Culbertson, head of U.S. public policy for Twitter, in which she noted that the Biden White House was “very angry” and expressed “dissatisfaction” that Twitter hadn’t done more in terms of deplatforming accounts that dissented from the administration’s preferred narratives on COVID.
The journalist further showed that while Twitter didn’t acquiesce to all of the Biden administration’s demands — and were likely more concerned about protecting free speech than the White House — the platform “did suppress views — many from doctors and scientific experts — that conflicted with the official positions of the White House. As a result, legitimate findings and questions that would have expanded the public debate went missing.”
Zweig proceeded to outline three “serious” process problems — first, that “crude” bots using artificial intelligence and lacking nuance flagged potentially problematic posts, that foreign contractors were tasked to moderate “complex” content they likely didn’t fully understand, and that final decisions were ultimately made by “high-level employees” who, as seen in other installments, routinely displayed “individual and collective bias” that, in this particular case, leaned favorably toward “establishment dogmas.”
Accurate info that could have changed public policy was suppressed
“Inevitably, dissident yet legitimate content was labeled as misinformation, and the accounts of doctors and others were suspended both for tweeting opinions and demonstrably true information,” Zweig tweeted.
Following several examples of multiple users — including actual doctors and scientists — being censored and suppressed for sharing accurate, if disfavored, information, the journalist concluded with a pertinent rhetorical question: “What might this pandemic and its aftermath have looked like if there had been a more open debate on Twitter and other social media platforms — not to mention the mainstream press — about the origins of Covid, about lockdowns, about the true risks of Covid in kids, and much more?”