Twitter aided Pentagon influence operations: report

Tech

(NewsNation) — A new installment of the “Twitter Files,” by reporter Lee Fang, alleges the social media company aided the military and Department of Defense in shaping public opinion about U.S. activities in other countries.

The Twitter Files are a number of internal documents that were shared with and later published by independent journalists including Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger. In the first batch, Taibbi focused on Twitter’s decision to limit the spread of a story by the New York Post about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Each of the document dumps was promoted by Elon Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion earlier this year. Weiss has said the only stipulation for getting access to the documents was that they be put on Twitter. Fang’s post Tuesday was the eighth part of the Twitter Files.

These documents from the files have not been independently confirmed by NewsNation.

Part 8 of the Twitter Files, which Fang published Tuesday in a tweet thread and on The Intercept, claims the U.S. government created multiple fake Twitter accounts meant to spread pro-American sentiment in places like the Middle East, Russia and China.

“Despite promises to shut down covert state-run propaganda networks, Twitter docs show that the social media giant directly assisted the U.S. military’s influence operations,” Fang wrote in a tweet thread.

While Twitter has an explicit policy banning governments from doing this, company officials seemed to be aware that this was the Pentagon’s plan, Fang said.

Included in Fang’s post were emails from U.S. Central Command officials to Twitter with a list of 42 Arab language accounts “we use to amplify certain messages.” The official asked for priority service for six accounts, verification for one and the “whitelist” abilities for the others.

“The same day CENTCOM sent the list, Twitter officials used a tool to grant a special “whitelist” tag that essentially provides verification status to the accounts w/o the blue check, meaning they are exempt from spam/abuse flags, more visible/likely to trend on hashtags,” Fang said.

Some accounts shared anti-Iranian government messages, while others promoted Saudi Arabia, an American ally.

Eventually, Twitter did ban the accounts, but Fang wrote that many remained active for a while — and some were only deleted this year.

To report this story, Fang says he was given access to Twitter for a few days.

“I signed/agreed to nothing, Twitter had no input into anything I did or wrote,” Fang said. “The searches were carried out by a Twitter attorney, so what I saw could be limited.”

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