The Twitter Files Explained: Matt Taibbi on The Censorship Industrial Complex

The Twitter Files are a set of internal Twitter documents that Elon Musk released to a group of journalists and other writers soon after his takeover of the company. Journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss organized the publication of the documents in a series of Twitter threads.

In this lecture (video below) Taibbi explains what the Files are and what their significance is. It is enlightening both for those who know little of the Files and for those who have closely followed the controversies surrounding them.

There are two aspects of the Twitter files that are striking.

First, the investigation into the Files shows federal agencies like the FBI systematically working with Twitter in the pre-Musk days to suppress information, using a variety of censoring techniques including shadow banning. (Shadow banning is best described as censorship which hides the tweets or decreases their circulation without their author knowing.) Since censorship by the federal government is forbidden by the First Amendment, this fact would seem to merit a full investigation and proper punishment for those who engaged in any illegalities. It has also emerged in the course of the investigations stimulated by the Files that federal agencies have exerted similar influence over other social media platforms such as Facebook.

Second, the Twitter Files have gained precious little attention in the mainstream media. Much of the mainstream coverage has been in the vein of, “Move along, there is nothing to see here.” Much of the rest has been devoted to attacks on Musk for daring to release the Files and motley other matters.

In this speech at the William F. Buckley Institute at Yale, Matt Taibbi describes the Twitter Files and what we know of them to date. Taibbi, a man of the “left” appears at the Institute bearing the name of one of the most prominent Cold War Conservatives, another example of so-called “right-left” collaboration that we see in response to the dangers of the moment.

3 thoughts on “The Twitter Files Explained: Matt Taibbi on The Censorship Industrial Complex”

  1. Matt Taibbi is one of the very few real journalists left in the U.S. For his review and publication of his explanation of the Twitter files, he was intimidated by the government, starting with IRS agents coming to his home. This is the kind of stuff they told us happens in Russia and China.

    1. I read the Russian press alot, sometimes just for their humorous read-between-the-lines way of doing journalism.
      In someways it’s akin to reading a Solzhenitsyn book who was always, it seemed to be, sharing something unspoken but it was something that he really wanted to know (sure the Gulag was cold as he started on a chapter but halfway through it was the real topic: he wanted you not to forget and one way was that package from home no matter how small/poor it was, then he went back to how darn cold it was in that chapter)
      One report from a while back about Russia’s unique manner of tax collection was shared.
      Evidently the Russians have a office that looks at reported income and one’s purchases. If they don’t match you’ll get a nice invite to “discuss” this discrepency.
      The reportors interviewed the poor souls that were “invited” to the office to pay the retroactive tax bill on the unreported income. The taxpayers (it was a couple) shared they were quite pleased to be paying that unexpected bill; something about patrotism and other rot.
      Russian humor can be quite sardonic at times…..

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