“The lies of russiagate”: latest episode of the Twitter files.
Posted on 14.1.2023
RT reports: In the latest episode of the Twitter files saga, we learn how the social network teams had to deal with a Democratic campaign aimed at attributing to Russia interference in US domestic politics in 2018.
The latest salvo of revelations in the Twitter Files series went live on January 12. Its title: “The Lies of Russiagate.”
American journalist Matt Taibbi highlights the unease experienced by some of the Twitter teams in early 2018 in the face of repeated efforts by the Democratic camp to support the thesis. of an alleged Russian interference on the social network, in particular by accusing Russia of having considerably amplified certain episodes relating to American political life.
In January 2018 in the United States, the campaign on “Russian interference” is in full swing. While, since Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the Democratic camp has persisted in denouncing a pseudo-collusion between the Donald Trump campaign team and Moscowthe various platforms for sharing political content were particularly attentive to this subject at the time.
It is in this context that, as shown by various documents presented by Matt Taibbi in his last publications thread, the Twitter teams explain that they have failed to identify any significant activity linked to Russia with regard to the amplification of certain key words relating to American democratic life.
Twitter officials were appalled, finding no evidence of Russian influence
“Twitter officials were appalled, finding no evidence of Russian influence,” said the American journalist, based on internal exchanges at Twitter. “We are feeding congressional trolls”, can we for example read in one of the documents revealed by Matt Taibbi.
“Twitter warned politicians and the media not only that they lacked evidence, but that they had evidence that the accounts weren’t Russian,” reports also the American journalist about the hypothetical existence on the social network of a massive influence campaign orchestrated by Russia.
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Twitter skeptical of the steps of certain American entities
During this period, Twitter teams seem to develop a mistrust of certain entities such as the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), a group formed in July 2017 by former senior US administration officials who claim the mission of countering Russian influence in the United States and Europe. The structure has notably set up the Hamilton 68 tooldedicated to the social network Twitter, and with which the ASD claims to be able to assess in real time the influence of Russia on the platform.
“I encourage you to be skeptical of interpretations of Hamilton 68 about [d’une présumée campagne russe sur Twitter]which as far as I know is the only source for these stories […]. It’s a communication stunt for ASD,” wrote on this subject on January 23, 2018 to his colleagues Emily Horne, then head of global political communications for Twitter.
“Hamilton 68 does not publish the accounts that make up its dashboard, so no one can verify that[il s’agit de] Russian automated accounts”, she also explains to her colleagues, pointing out that it was “extraordinarily difficult”, for entities outside Twitter and therefore not having access to the platform’s software interface, to have as many certainties as those put forward by the ASD.
“All this tumult is based on Hamilton”, also believes at this time Yoel Roththen head of security for the social network.
It appears, for example, that many posts and interactions containing the hashtag “#ReleaseTheMemo” then presented by the ASD as part of a vast anti-democratic destabilization campaign organized by Russia, are in fact, according to Twitter teams , related to the activity of very important Western accounts, having no connection with Moscow. At least that’s what one of the internal documents presented by Matt Taibbi shows.
Did Twitter end up following “a servile pattern”?
Senior Twitter officials therefore appear to have reservations about political attempts to influence their work in the area of countering foreign interference. However, despite this, they would have gradually adopted a rather conciliatory position vis-à-vis the actors designating Russia as a destabilizing power in the American democratic game.
For example, some documents show that Twitter officials internally criticized Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal’s pushy behavior, likening his multiple pleas to a character in a children’s book, who multiplies his pleas the more he gets. “If you give a cookie to a mouse…,” reads the internal email in question.
But, “despite the universal internal belief that there were no Russians in the story, Twitter continued to follow a slavish pattern of not officially challenging claims. [relatives à] Russia”, notes Matt Taibbi, according to whom this position would have finally allowed certain unfounded theses to permeate the American media landscape.
As a reminder, the investigation of the “Twitter files” is based on internal documents to the social network, which were made public by Elon Musk after his arrival at the head of the company.