Musk and Taibbi Demand Answers About FBI Asking Twitter to Track Americans, Nail Ted Lieu in Troubling Admission

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Journalist Matt Taibbi dropped the sixth installment of the Twitter Files on Friday, showing the close relationship between the FBI and Twitter, with regular contacts from the FBI to Twitter flagging speech to take action against, as well as regular weekly meetings between Twitter and the FBI, DHS and other agencies. According to Matt Taibbi, 80 agents were assigned to this task.


The FBI responded as though this was a completely normal thing.

“The FBI regularly engages with private sector entities to provide information specific to identified foreign malign influence actors’ subversive, undeclared, covert, or criminal activities. Private sector entities independently make decisions about what, if any, action they take on their platforms and for their customers after the FBI has notified them.”

Taibbi tweeted that agents were being tasked to flag people for tweets rather than going after people for things like being child sex predators.

That’s when Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca) responded and things went over the edge. He claimed that he was on the House Judiciary Committee which has oversight and Taibbi was lying.


That’s when Taibbi dropped the bomb on Lieu.

Taibbi said:

Being on that committee you should know:
– How much has been spent, and how many DHS/DOJ employees have been assigned, to monitoring and flagging social media?
– Why is the FBI asking for “location information” about ordinary Americans and media outlets like @RSBNetwork?
– What “law enforcement” objective is served by asking for Billy Baldwin’s location information?
– Why is the FBI/DHS in the business of analyzing and flagging social media content at all? When were these programs created and who approved them?

So the FBI wasn’t just flagging tweets they didn’t like, such as jokes about when the election was, for action, but they were also asking Twitter to provide them the location of the people behind the tweets, including Right Side Broadcasting and Billy Baldwin. What can even begin to justify that?


Twitter owner Elon Musk called those “good questions” and asked Ted Lieu what the explanation for this was.

That’s when Lieu stepped into it and gave up the game.

Dear @elonmusk: Simple answer, have you tried reading FBI’s mission? From 2017 program: “The FBI considers strategic engagement with U.S. technology companies, including threat indicator sharing, to be important in combating foreign influence actors.”

Lieu then admitted he was aware of the program.

So there’s not only government involvement in going after speech but the FBI tracking Americans for speech that didn’t even come close to a crime, under the guise of trying to go after “foreign influence” and threats. And Lieu is admitting he knew and trying to justify it.


What were they going to do when they got the location of people, like Billy Baldwin? Designate manpower to follow people for joking about the election? Last time I checked, Billy Baldwin didn’t represent much of a threat except to people’s sensibilities for his bad acting. But he, just like everyone else that they were going after, deserves basic constitutional protections.

Can we scream out how much this needs to stop, what a constitutional problem it is, and how much we need answers on this? Just as a coda, maybe part of the problem is that so many FBI officials became Twitter officials.


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