The latest set of Twitter Files released on Tuesday evening revealed that the Bureau of Investigation (FBI) promised the social media company’s executive that it would serve as a conduit between the tech industries and intelligence agencies.
The agency said it would be the “belly button” for censorship requests from intelligence agencies to the tech industry.
16.Facebook, Google, and Twitter executives were united in opposition to GEC’s inclusion, with ostensible reasons including, “The GEC’s mandate for offensive IO to promote American interests.” pic.twitter.com/jvZxPYTIE6
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023
“Will the industry partners rely on the FBI to be the belly button for the USG? We can do that as well,” FBI Agent Elvis Chan told former Twitter Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, according to revelations from the latest “Twitter Files” installment.
The promise came at a time of Twitter’s struggle to contain public and private agencies bypassing it and going straight to the media with a list of accounts they want to censor.
One such instance was in February 2020 when the Global Engagement Center (GEC), a fledgling analytic/intelligence arm of the State Department, went to the media with a report titled “Russian Disinformation Apparatus Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Concerns.”
According to Independent Journalist Matt Taibbi, Twitter was trying to reduce the number of agencies that had direct access to Roth. Twitter executives then refused the GEC’s demand to be included in the regular industry call between social media companies and the FBI DHS.
Facebook and Google joined Twitter in turning down the GEC’s request. One former Department of Defense staff member told Taibbi that the tech companies thought the FBI was “less Trumpy” than the GEC.
The FBI ultimately proposed a compromise that would allow the GEC to participate in the call, with the FBI and DHS acting as sole “conduits.” When Roth raised concerns about the proposal, Chan reassured him that it would be a “one-way” channel, and “State/GEC, NSA, and CIA have expressed interest in being allowed on in listen mode only.”
“We can give you everything we’re seeing from the FBI and USIC agencies,” Chan explained, but the DHS agency CISA “will know what’s going on in each state.”