The latest stunning release of information from Twitter, the social media company now under the management of Elon Musk, is the biggest who-done-it of the year, and arguably more profound a news story than the Watergate break-in during the 1972 presidential election. You would not know it by the news coverage.
The Twitter Files now show that Twitter, at the request of the federal government, censored information that was true, helpful, and scientifically sound, but that was inconvenient to the U.S. government’s Covid-19 policies.
Twitter, which is one of the most influential forces in shaping news coverage, discredited doctors and other experts who disagreed with the government Covid’s doctrine. Pressured by the government, Twitter suppressed and eliminated the platform’s doubting Thomases, even those who were simply sharing the CDC’s own official data, or those posting out inconsistencies.
Major news agencies could not be bothered with the story back then, or even now, as under-new-management Twitter is spilling its guts about what happened.
The Twitter Files have come in waves this month. The New York Times gave a smearing of coverage to how Twitter, after being requested to do so by the Pentagon, kept online a network of secret accounts that the U.S. military used. News organizations reported, lightly and dismissively, how Twitter biased the election coverage for Joe Biden during the 2020 election, and suppressed — rather, censored — the Hunter Biden laptop story and possible criminal links to Ukrainian corruption.
A glossing of mainstream media coverage has described Twitter’s secret blacklists and how the company was functioning as a type of subsidiary of the FBI.
But when it comes to the files that show how Twitter censored Covid information the government didn’t agree with, it’s been crickets across many of the mainstream news outlets.
The latest tranche of information that shows just what a propaganda machine Twitter is was released by the online-only The Free Press, in the story “How Twitter rigged the Covid debate,” by David Zweig, (or at @thefp, on Twitter.)
“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,” Zweig reported.
“At the onset of the pandemic, according to meeting notes, the Trump admin was especially concerned about panic buying. They came looking for ‘help from the tech companies to combat misinformation’ about ‘runs on grocery stores.’ But . . . there were runs on grocery stores.”
As it turns out, the Trump White House was also meeting with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others, Zweig wrote. This story is beyond the usual partisan divide — both White Houses were steering the behemoths of the Internet to sway public opinion and change public behavior.
The Biden White House was not only concerned about suppressing “anti-vaxxers” on Twitter, the administration singled out certain well-known people like Alex Berenson, a former reporter for the New York Times. Twitter killed his account in the summer of 2021, at the behest of the Biden Administration.
By that point, Twitter had become a state actor, a subsidiary of the federal government.
But it gets worse. Lauren Culbertson, Twitter’s Head of U.S. Public Policy, “wrote that the Biden team was ‘very angry’ that Twitter had not been more aggressive in deplatforming multiple accounts. They wanted Twitter to do more.”
After meetings with the White House, Twitter became more aggressive in moderating speech relating to Covid, suppressing views even from medical doctors and scientific experts who disagreed with the federal government’s official position.
“As a result, legitimate findings and questions that would have expanded the public debate went missing,” Zweig wrote.
The new Twitter, under Elon Musk and his quest for transparency, discovered that the prior management even had people in the Philippines moderating content relating to Covid.
“They were given decision trees to aid in the process, but tasking non experts to adjudicate tweets on complex topics like myocarditis and mask efficacy data was destined for a significant error rate,” Zweig wrote. “With Covid, this bias bent heavily toward establishment dogmas.”
“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,” he continued, and used Dr. Dr. Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, as an example. Kulldorff tweeted views at odds with US public health authorities and the American left, the political affiliation of nearly the entire staff at Twitter. But Kulldorff’s tweet violated the Twitter policy on Covid-19 misinformation.
Kulldorff’s statements were an expert’s opinion, and in line with vaccine policies of numerous countries, but his opinions were deemed “false information,” by Twitter moderators because it was different from what the CDC was saying.
Kulldorff’s tweet was slapped with a “Misleading” label and all replies and likes were shut off, throttling the tweet’s ability to be seen and shared by many people, the ostensible core function of the platform, Zweig wrote.
Since Musk took over and his engineers started digging through the communication files from the last few years, the Twitter account of Stanford University professor of medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who was blacklisted for his thoughts on Covid-19 lockdowns and policies, was restored.
Also restored was the account of Dr. Robert Malone, an mRNA vaccine researcher, who the Twitter-government censors removed from the platform, even though he was part of the research team that invented the mRNA vaccine.
Dr. Peter McCullough, another Covid expert, cardiologist, and former vice chief of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center and a professor at Texas A&M, has also had his account restored, as have a dozen other credible experts and journalists and researchers who simply questioned government lockdowns, vaccination policies, mask mandates, and official data, or who offered alternative treatment regimens.
Government got what it wanted in this anti-First Amendment activity — it got control. Media got what it wanted — attention. Businesses were paid off or threatened to shut up. Anyone who questioned too loudly was silenced, then fired, then cancelled. Trump doesn’t want to discuss this because much of it happened on his watch.
The entire scandal doesn’t fit neatly into the left/right paradigm, but it does fit into another paradigm: Controller vs. controlled, powerful vs. powerless, and the media vs. the truth.