Matt Taibbi Puts Ted Lieu on the Hot Seat Again About FBI Going After Domestic Speech on Twitter

House Television via AP

The Twitter files have been raising great questions and a lot of concerns about government involvement in censoring speech on Twitter. The files have featured not only the FBI but “other government agencies” as the most recent release exposed.


The FBI released statements claiming this was all normal and that they weren’t asking Twitter to take action against the accounts (even though they were flagging those accounts for Twitter’s action).

But George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley and Michael Shellenberger put paid to those excuses.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who has tried to spin these actions in the past did so again with this tweet, claimed this was all part of the Foreign Influence Task Force, that Elon Musk, Matt Taibbi, and Michael Shellenberger — who were all involved in the Twitter files release — were trying to gaslight people and that companies like Twitter could decide what to do with the information given to them by the FBI.

But journalist Matt Taibbi laid Lieu out again with a great question.


“Congressman, why is a “Foreign Influence” task force sending Excel spreadsheets full of joke tweets from low-follower accounts in Maryland, Kentucky, and Ohio?” Taibbi queried. “Why does the FITF spend so much time reviewing domestic speech?”

Lieu has not as yet responded to this question.

Taibbi said that one of the accounts tweeted on Nov. 8, “I want to remind republicans to vote tomorrow, Wednesday November 9.”

One of the emails shared by Taibbi shows the “Public Sector Engagement Squad” at FBI’s San Francisco office notifying Twitter employees of “account activities” that “potentially constitute violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service.”

Another tweet flagged by the FBI states, “Americans, Vote today. Democrats you vote Wednesday 9th.”

Lieu also hasn’t specifically responded on Twitter to a prior question about why the FBI was asking for location information about the accounts, although he has said he was aware of the FITF program and approves of it.

As I reported, the FBI was also trying to get the location of accounts that were in the U.S., including the accounts of people like actor Billy Baldwin and Right Side Broadcasting. If it’s a Foreign Influence Task Force, why are they flagging domestic speech? Whether they get it or admit that that’s what they were doing, they were getting speech censored.

Further, how is joking about when election day is even a federal crime or something that would rise to the level of the attention of the FBI? Think of what a tremendous waste of time that is when they’re spending time and money on that trying to police jokes, rather than pursuing what they should be pursuing.


As Matt Taibbi explained again in the most recent Twitter files, this raises troubling questions about going after domestic accounts under the excuse of foreign interference.

Meanwhile, Taibbi noted they had trouble with the justification of foreign interference.

The answer here is that all this needs to be subject to real oversight as to what was going on here and how far this went to go after domestic speech.


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