Matt Taibbi published the most recent chapter of his “Twitter Files” on Christmas Eve, revealing that collaboration between the tech behemoth Twitter and intelligence agencies extended far beyond the FBI. In an extensive series of tweets, Taibbi asserted that the FBI was only the “doorman” to a broad operation of social media monitoring and control, spanning institutions from the State Department to the CIA.
The writer said that Twitter had so many contacts with OGAs (short for “other government agencies” in tweets) that the corporation could not keep track of them all. He elaborated executives lost track of Twitter’s interactions with so many authorities due to the sheer volume. Employees were asking questions: Is the DOD today and the FBI tomorrow? Is it a weekly conference call or a monthly meeting?
On June 29, 2020, San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan contacted two Twitter executives and requested permission to invite an “OGA” to an upcoming conference. It was common knowledge at Twitter that one of its executives was a former CIA agent, which is why Chan alluded to this executive’s “previous employment.” He continued a regular meeting of the multi-agency Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) attracted waves of CEOs, FBI agents, and – almost invariably – one or two attendees labeled ‘OGA.’
What were the topics of these meetings? Typically “foreign affairs.”
But Taibbi wrote that despite its apparent focus being ‘Foreign Influence,’ the FITF and the San Francisco FBI office became conduits for demands for domestic moderation from state governments and even local police.
Twitter had so many meetings with government agencies that it was difficult to keep track of them, and it was also swamped with inquiries from the FBI over “problem accounts.” Less than six weeks before the 2020 election, FBI agent Chan contacted Twitter executive Stacia Cardilla over the identification of more Twitter handles that appear to give “misleading information.”
Regarding the most recent batch of Twitter data, Taibbi wrote that no one appeared to find it odd that a ‘Foreign Influence’ task force was transmitting thousands of largely domestic reports, along with the DHS, about the most trivial content.
In an email obtained by Taibbi on October 1, 2020, just over a month before the 2020 presidential election, an unidentified Twitter executive acknowledged “waiting for more evidence” about State Department assertions of Russian interference. This individual confessed that given that government partners are getting more active on attribution, our window of opportunity is narrowing.
Taibbi explained what this may mean: The ‘window’ of Twitter’s independence has been closed by more assertive’ government allies.”
The reporter closed the most recent edition of Twitter Files by adding that the CIA has yet to comment on its partnership with technology companies like Twitter. Taibbi went on to say that Twitter did not influence his actions or writing, and external parties conducted the searches, so what he observed may have been restricted.
Part eight of the Twitter Files demonstrated how the platform’s functions directly aided the U.S. military’s influence operations. Part seven highlighted the FBI’s efforts to debunk material on Hunter Biden’s international business dealings.