Your Government Does Not Fear You

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The Twitter Files drops keep a-coming, and if current developments are any indication, they are not going to stop anytime soon. The last two drops from December 24 and 26 detail a horrific, but not surprising, level of corruption in the cozy relationship between federal, state, and local governments with Big Tech companies.

The first of the latest two was published by journalist Matt Taibbi and detailed how the FBI, along with other government agencies like the CIA, was filtering censorship requests to Twitter through the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF). The meetings between the FITF and Twitter were exposed in prior Twitter Files drops, but they did not discuss the involvement of other governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.

You read that right. Even local governments went through the FITF to ask Twitter to censor American accounts posting tweets of which they did not approve.

“The files show the FBI acting as the doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government – from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA,” Taibbi wrote.

The journalist noted that the FBI acted as a “doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship,” which included several government agencies:

The files show the FBI acting as doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government – from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA.

While the FBI claimed its collaboration with Twitter was intended to root out propaganda and disinformation being disseminated on the platform through foreign agitators, most of the agency’s efforts focused on targeting American low-follower accounts that supposedly violated the company’s terms of service. In several exchanges, FBI agent Elvis Chan and others emailed accounts that fit this description while promoting views, information, and even jokes that went against the White House-approved narrative regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters.

In one case, the Minneapolis Police Department sent a request through the FITF regarding an account that posted a tweet criticizing an officer for allegedly abusing a protester during the George Floyd riots:

Regardless of what one thinks of the George Floyd protests, it is not hard to see the potentially chilling effect such an action could have on freedom of expression.

But it doesn’t stop there.

On Monday, journalist David Zweig dropped the latest issue of the Twitter Files and blew the lid open on the government’s campaign to pressure Twitter and other big tech companies to suppress opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines that did not align with the narratives coming from the White House.

In an article written for The Free Press, he noted that the company “seemed to promote content that reinforced the establishment narrative, and to suppress views and even scientific evidence that ran to the contrary.”

Later in the piece, he writes:

The United States government pressured Twitter to elevate certain content and suppress other content about Covid-19 and the pandemic. Internal emails that I viewed at Twitter showed that both the Trump and Biden administrations directly pressed Twitter executives to moderate the platform’s content according to their wishes.

Zweig notes that the Trump administration was “especially concerned about panic buying” and was looking for “help from the tech companies to combat misinformation,” according to email communication exchanges after meeting with the White House. He also pointed to the situation with journalist Alex Berenson, who the Biden administration targeted because of his COVID-skeptical reportage.

Twitter suspended Berenson’s account just hours after President Joe Biden publicly accused social media companies of “killing people” by not doing enough to suppress dissenting views on the pandemic. In response, the journalist sued Twitter, and the lawsuit has now been settled. As part of the suit, Twitter provided internal communications which revealed their meetings with the White House and the fact that the administration pressured them to remove Berenson from the platform. This was another huge story that the activist media decided to ignore.

Now that the information is out, and there is no room for denial, it begs a question: Why did the government think it would get away with subverting the First Amendment to silence opposing views?

The answer is simple: Because they can.

Officials serving in the federal government likely did not believe their machinations would ever be exposed as they have now that Elon Musk has taken over Twitter. Even the revelations about Berenson could be explained away as a “one-off.” But now, America better understands the extent to which the government went to prevent people from seeing opinions and information they did not want out in the ether.

But the most infuriating part of this fiasco is that it is unlikely that anyone will be held accountable. We cannot count on our once-vaunted Fourth Estate to “speak truth to power” in this instance because it involves a president who they view as an ally. Moreover, they are fully on board with the draconian measures that were taken over the past year based mostly on lies.

Republicans will certainly use this story to beat their chests and shout “harumph” from their ivory towers, knowing that they will do absolutely nothing about it. The Biden administration won’t cease its efforts to pressure big tech companies to do its bidding. Indeed, even if a Republican manages to win the presidency in 2024, there probably won’t be any real change.

The crux of the matter is this: Your government does not fear or respect you. Its officials know they will not lose their jobs and will only increase their power. Until more ordinary Americans are willing to stand up and use their voices and votes to hold these people accountable, we can’t expect to see significant change.


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