In a new report exposing the activity at Twitter prior to Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform, Matt Taibbi discussed the FBI’s communications with the social media company.
“Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary,” Taibbi tweeted. “Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth,” he added.
“Some are mundane, like San Francisco agent Elvis Chan wishing Roth a Happy New Year along with a reminder to attend ‘our quarterly call next week.’ Others are requests for information into Twitter users related to active investigations,” Taibbi wrote. “But a surprisingly high number are requests by the FBI for Twitter to take action on election misinformation, even involving joke tweets from low-follower accounts.”
Taibbi posted screenshots of emails in which the FBI flagged certain accounts for Twitter, suggesting that the accounts may have run afoul of the company’s terms of service.
One such email read, “Hello Twitter contacts, FBI San Francisco is notifying you of the below account activities which may potentially constitute violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service for any action or inaction deemed appropriate within Twitter policy.” The message flagged two Twitter accounts, apparently for tweeting jokes.
One of the accounts, @ClaireFosterPHD, had satirically claimed to be a ballot counter, tweeting comments like, “If you’re not wearing a mask, I am not counting your vote” and “for every negative comment on this post I’m adding another vote for the democrats.”
The other account had tweeted, “Americans, Vote today. Democrats you vote Wednesday 9th.”
Taibbi noted that while the @ClaireFosterPHD account was not suspended, the other account was.