A tweet on Friday by journalist Matt Taibbi released the “Twitter Files” Elon Musk has been teasing since Monday, claiming they unmasked the suppression of free speech by the social media platform.
Taibbi, who typed “The Twitter Files” in all caps, wrote, in his rather dramatic opening tweets, that the thread will “tell an incredible story from inside one of the world’s largest and most influential social media platforms.”
Twitter CEO Musk said in a tweet on Monday: “The public deserves to know what really happened,” and promoting the lengthy thread on Friday, he wrote, “Here we go!!” with two popcorn emojis.
The thread, peppered with snippets and screenshots described by Taibbi as “internal documents,” detailed the company’s call to block a 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden shortly before the presidential election.
Several of the snippets showed Twitter executives rushing to make a difficult moderation decision, which Taibbi described as “extraordinary steps to suppress the story,” about the New York Post article.
On Oct. 14, 2020, the New York Post alleged that it had obtained emails providing evidence that Hunter Biden had introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to “a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company.”
Twitter’s policies prohibit the distribution of “hacked materials,” according to NBC News, and it cited the relevant policy as one of the reasons it had blocked the article, confirming that the content was not the concern.
Among the screenshots were also emails from unnamed individuals in the Biden administration, requesting that Twitter act against specific tweets.
NBC News reported that “many, if not all, of the tweets in question violated Twitter rules,” and “at least three of those tweets involved photographs of Hunter Biden.”
On Friday, Musk faced the pressure of having to make a tough moderation decision of his own, when rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, posted an image of a swastika inside the Star of David, violating the platform’s policy against incitement of violence and prompting Twitter to suspend Ye’s account.
While most comments supported Taibbi’s thread, one Twitter user wrote: “Really, Mr. Musk? This is an old, very stale story.” Another user, Collin Rugg, whose profile description says he was “banned from Twitter at 75k followers for supporting Trump,” wrote: “Elon Musk is going up against some of the most powerful people in America. Pray for him.”
US Senator for Kentucky Rand Paul retweeted the thread, saying: “This is better than a Friday night movie. Everyone should read this and everyone should thank Elon Musk for bringing this public.”