The following is a summary of tonights' release of information and internal Twitter communications as reported by journalist Matt Taibbi, with some additional context added by me below.
On Oct. 14, 2020, White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany was locked out of her Twitter account for tweeting about the New York Post Hunter Biden laptop story, prompting a furious letter from Trump campaign staffer Mike Hahn, who wrote to Twitter: “At least pretend to care for the next 20 days.”
The next morning, Twitter's Carolyn Strom sent an internal query asking for a "closer look." "Several [Twitter] employees noted that there was tension between the [Twitter communications]/policy teams, who had little/less control over moderation, and the [Twitter] safety/trust teams."
Twitter's "escalation team" replied to Strom that "the user was bounced by Site Integrity for violating our Hacked Materials policy." We now know that prior to the story, the FBI had prepped social media companies to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story when it came out by falsely indicating it would be "Russian disinformation."
According to reporter Matt Taibbi, "The decision [to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story] was made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with [Twitter's then-]head of legal...Vijaya Gadde playing a key role."
Taibbi reports: “'They just freelanced it,' is how one former employee characterized the decision. 'Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it'.”
In the following exchange, Twitter communications official Trenton Kennedy writes, “I'm struggling to understand the policy basis for marking [the Hunter Biden laptop story] as unsafe." Copied on the exchange are [Twitter's then-]head of legal, Gadde; and Twitter's then "safety chief" Yoel Roth.
Internal officials continue to discuss how to handle the situation, and what to tell the public about it, once the controversial censorship decision has begun to be implemented. Ian Plunk is apparently with Twitter's communications department. Gadde: head of Twitter legal. Roth: Twitter's "safety chief."
There appears to be internal skepticism over the censorship early on within Twitter. Twitter's Vice President of Global Communications at the time, Brandon Borrman, asks, “Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?”
Twitter's then-Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker appears to acknowledge that they don't know whether the Hunter Biden laptop materials had been obtained through hacking. Before going to Twitter, Baker was the controversial FBI General Counsel, whom some internal FBI agents and employees blamed for inappropriate anti-Trump leaks and other alleged wrongdoing. The Dept. of Justice at the time opened a criminal investigation against Baker. However, Baker left the FBI and was not charged with any crimes. The idea of an anti-Trump intelligence official being hired to work at Twitter, which was pursuing an anti-Trump agenda, was controversial but not widely-reported. Baker had also served as a CNN consultant, as had other discredited intelligence officials who were involved in the false Trump-Russia collusion story.
California Democrat Ro Khanna had a direct line to Twitter officials, and expressed concern over the censorship even though Khanna described himself as a "total Biden partisan. Below, Khanna is writing Twitter's head of legal Gadde.
Twitter's head of legal, Gadde, replies to Rep. Khanna's concerns. Note: The communications generally support the writings I've published in recent years that take the position that the communications and, at times, coordination between social media companies, and government and election officials, puts the resulting actions squarely in the realm of censorship because it blurs the separation between government and private industry.
On October 15, the day after McEnany's account was suspended, Twitter's head of public policy, Lauren Culbertson, was emailed by an official from the research firm "Net Choice," which said that NetChoice was "gathering intel" related to social media handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story. Another NetChoice official had reportedly met with 9 Republicans and 3 Democrats on the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee.
The NetChoice official continues his report to Twitter's head of public policy, according to reporter Taibbi:
However, in the end, neither Democrats nor Republicans rectified the situation or did anything meaningful about it.
The NetChoice official reportedly continues relaying what his firm has learned from informal meetings with members of Congress. Democrats are said to have agreed the censorship was necessary and "the First Amendment isn't absolute."
Check back for updates....