Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

How Twitter hid US-military info ops from the public – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on December 28, 2022

Recent ‘files’ released by the social media giant’s new CEO Elon Musk reveal double standards on outing covert gov’t-backed programs.

Written by
Eli Clifton

Emails from the so-called “Twitter Files” — internal communications shared with Lee Fang at The Intercept as well as other journalists following Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media platform — reveal that the company had knowledge of a U.S. military-linked information operation and did not publicly acknowledge the operation or provide transparency to the general public after the operation was discovered.

That appears to be a clear violation of Twitter’s principles about state-backed information operations as laid out by Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth in 2019. Indeed, Twitter made a point of disclosing the details of accounts, and the content of their tweets, when they were identified as part of government linked information operations, beginning in 2018.

Roth wrote, in a statement of principles that is still published on Twitter’s website:

We believe Twitter has a responsibility to protect the integrity of the public conversation — including through the timely disclosure of information about attempts to manipulate Twitter to influence elections and other civic conversations by foreign or domestic state-backed entities. We believe the public and research community are better informed by transparency.

Fang, in his article published on Tuesday, details how Twitter “whitelisted” — a function that provided accounts with invulnerability to Twitter’s detection mechanisms that might decrease visibility for accounts engaged in spam or abuse — a list of accounts provided by U.S. Central Command in 2017. The accounts engaged in activities including: touting the accuracy of drone strikes in Yemen, promoting U.S. backed militias in Syria, and spreading anti-Iran messages in Iraq.

An official working at CENTCOM promised that the accounts would be labeled as “USG-attributed, Arabic-language accounts tweeting on relevant security issues,” but many of the accounts subsequently deleted these disclosures and concealed their affiliation with the U.S. government after Twitter granted them the special status.

See the rest here

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