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What did Musk's exposed Twitter document door say?
After Musk completed the acquisition of Twitter, there were explosive news every week. Last weekend, he took the initiative to expose Twitter's internal documents, letting the outside world understand the decision-making process of Twitter's high-level decision to suppress the Biden Jr. scandal in October 2020. Surprisingly, Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter at the time, was unaware of this. What are the behind-the-scenes truths revealed by the Twitter document door?
Big news every week
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Musk's personal wealth has shrunk by $100 billion this year as Tesla's stock price continued to fall. On the latest Forbes Billionaires Ranking, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault once surpassed Musk with a personal asset of US$185.6 billion, becoming the world's richest man. Of course, as Tesla's stock price rebounded, he soon regained the top of the global personal wealth list again.
However, whether he is the world's richest man or not, Musk is the world's top traffic blogger. As the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter, Musk firmly occupies the news media's reporting page almost every day, and every tweet is the focus of heated discussions on social media.
After completing the acquisition of Twitter at the end of October, Musk will release big explosive news every week. From rude layoffs of more than half of the staff, to the collective resignation of employees, to the forced signing of the struggler agreement, to the bombardment of Apple's hegemony, and to the latest Twitter document. After the world's most influential social media was acquired by Musk, the platform itself became the biggest news.
Last weekend, Musk suddenly released a big move, announcing that he would publish "the behind-the-scenes truth about Twitter's suppression of Hunter Biden (Hunter Biden) news" on Twitter. He also posted a popcorn emoji, "This is going to be amazing". I have to feel that Musk knows how to handle traffic very well, not only taking the initiative to release big news, but also warming up in advance to remind fans and the media to watch and follow up on time.
The teaser tweet quickly attracted national attention. Hunter Biden is the youngest son of the current US President Biden, and the Hunter Biden news mentioned by Musk refers to the "Little Biden scandal" that was suddenly exposed in mid-October 2020. In 2010, it was a focus of debate between the left and right factions in the United States.
Musk's so-called "Twitter Files" (Twitter Files) is a reference to the 2021 Facebook whistleblower. At that time, Facebook product manager Frances Haugen published many internal documents, publicly reporting that Facebook knew that its algorithm might lead to the spread of false information, but still pursued the traffic effect and put corporate interests above social responsibility.
Biden Jr. scandal
A brief review of the "Biden Jr. Scandal". In mid-October 2020, just as the general election entered the final impact stage, the right-wing tabloid "New York Post" owned by media tycoon Murdoch suddenly released an exclusive news about Biden Jr.'s personal scandal. The news immediately became a hot topic on social media, and at one point became the third most searched on Twitter.
The owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware gave then-President Trump's personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani a personal notebook that allegedly belonged to Biden Jr. The many scandalous evidence of Biden Jr. Among them are not only emails in which he boasted to Ukrainian entrepreneurs that he could introduce himself as the father of the vice president of the United States, but also videos of his drug use and sex scandals. So they sent the scandal to the New York Post to publish.
The U.S. presidential election was just three weeks away. It is conceivable that after the release of this bombing news, it was widely disseminated by the rightists as if it was a treasure, and was used to attack the Democratic candidate Biden for his incompetent parenting. Although the scandal itself has nothing to do with Biden, conservatives have suggested that if Biden is elected president, Biden Jr. may be more unscrupulous in using his father's power for personal gain.
However, when the right was extremely excited about this explosive scandal, Twitter and Facebook successively took control measures to limit the spread of this scandal on the two major social platforms. Twitter first marked the news link of the New York Post as "harmful information", then directly blocked the link, prohibited the news from appearing on its own platform, and even prohibited users from spreading it through private messages.
At the same time, Twitter also temporarily banned the official account of the New York Post, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and the accounts of the Trump campaign that forwarded the news. The explanation given by Twitter is that their tweets violated Twitter's regulations prohibiting the posting of stolen content, because the scandalous content came from Biden Jr.'s stolen notebook.
Obviously, Twitter's move made conservatives and Republicans very angry. They originally wanted to use this scandal to hit Biden's approval rating at the last moment of the election. Trump himself was furious on Twitter: "This is just the beginning of Facebook and Twitter. Nothing is uglier than corrupt politicians. Section 230 must be revoked!!!" (Note: Section 230 of the Federal Communications Act protects the Internet The platform has the right to control content and not be responsible for user content.)
Musk trusts self-media
For a long time, conservatives and Republicans have accused Silicon Valley Internet giants such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google of favoring liberals and Democrats in their political stances, suppressing the voices of the right, and using their own information hegemony to control the information people get. This incident undoubtedly gave them the best excuse. And Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey later admitted that it was unacceptable to suppress the handling of Biden Jr.'s scandal.
However, Zuckerberg suddenly revealed the inside story in an interview in August this year. They did not intend to limit the spread of the Biden scandal. Instead, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the U.S. Department of Justice contacted them, warning that there may be Foreign forces spread false information to interfere in the general election. Zuckerberg said that although the FBI did not name and point out that the Biden scandal was false information, Facebook determined that the news was in line with the FBI's warning after receiving the warning, so it decided to take measures to limit the content of the related scandal. right.
Zuckerberg's statement made his own responsibilities clear, but it made Republicans extremely embarrassed. Because October 2020 is still in the Trump administration, and the Attorney General is also William Barr appointed by Trump, which has nothing to do with the Biden campaign. Several Republican senators immediately sent a letter to Zuckerberg demanding a detailed explanation and demanding that the Justice Department and the FBI provide relevant communication records to prove the matter.
What Musk exposed this time is the internal discussion records of Twitter's decision-makers in limiting the spread of the Biden Jr. scandal. Interestingly, Musk did not hand over these records to the mainstream media, but to the independent self-media person Matt Taibbi (Matt Taibbi) to publish on Twitter. In addition, according to his own introduction, he also handed over the documents to another self-media person, Bari Weiss, but the latter has not released the relevant content yet.
In the past two years, due to his opposition to the prevention and control of the epidemic and his dissatisfaction with public words and deeds such as tax increases for the rich, Musk has continued to have public frictions with Democratic politicians, and has also been criticized by the mainstream media in the United States. His resistance to the mainstream media has also become more and more obvious, criticizing these media for being biased against him, and he is more respectful of Citizen Journalism. This time, Taibi, a self-media person he trusted, also criticized the reporting position of the mainstream media for a long time.
After Musk's warm-up, Tebjo posted more than 40 consecutive tweets on his Twitter, announcing the internal high-level communication records provided to him by Musk to prove that "Twitter's high-level actions are unusual. The move to suppress the scandal of Biden Jr." Although the outside world knows that Musk provided these documents, Taibi refers to them as "insiders."
Taibi also mentioned when exposing Twitter's internal documents that both parties have contacted Twitter many times to request deletion of content. "But this communication system is not balanced, but based on connections. Twitter's top executives are completely inclined to a certain political position, so the Democrats have more communication and complaint channels than the Republicans."
When commenting on the exposed internal Twitter documents, Musk said angrily, "If this is not a violation of the First Amendment (freedom of speech) of the US Constitution, then what is?" He also criticized the mainstream media for insufficient coverage of the matter. "They're not only unwilling to admit it, they're even lying to the public and trying to pretend it's insignificant. It's a disgrace to them." But many mainstream media were quick to point out to him that the subject of First Amendment restrictions is the government, the media and Online platforms have the right to independently decide what to publish, which is the original intention of the amendment.
Dorsey himself did not know
Why do Twitter executives restrict the spread of the Biden scandal on their own platform? The documents released by Taibi show that after the Biden Jr. scandal hit Twitter's hot searches, Twitter's executives had intense internal discussions and finally decided to limit the spread of the matter on their own platform. Twitter executives who advocate limiting the spread of the scandal believe that the contents of Biden Jr.'s notebook cannot be verified and are from stolen items.
Former Twitter security chief Yoel Roth, who has since departed, was one of the executives involved in the discussions. He believes that Twitter cannot verify the authenticity of this news. They do not believe the "New York Post" report, and this news may have a direct impact on the general election three weeks later. Obviously, Twitter executives considered the impact of a large amount of false information on American social platforms before the 2016 election.
Jim Baker, Twitter's deputy general counsel, also backed a crackdown on the spread of the scandal. He said in the document that these documents may have been stolen, caution must be exercised, and serious risks and lessons from the 2016 election should be considered. It is worth mentioning that after Musk released these documents, he immediately announced the firing of Baker.
But what is slightly surprising is that the document shows that then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was not involved in the discussion, and he was not even aware of Twitter's top management's decision to limit the spread of the scandal. It appears that Dorsey has placed himself outside the content-control process, leaving a few key executives to lead the charge. Dorsey stepped in to revoke Twitter's content restrictions after Twitter suppressed the spread of scandals and caused huge controversy, and publicly stated that this was a wrong decision.
The main decision to control Twitter content is former Twitter general counsel Vijaya Gadde (Vijaya Gadde), who is also the first person responsible for deciding to permanently ban Trump. After Musk completed the acquisition of Twitter, he fired Gard immediately. But under the executive's golden parachute terms, Gard could go home with a severance package of more than $60 million after being fired by Musk.
However, what may disappoint many Republicans is that there was no involvement of Democratic politicians, the Biden campaign, or the federal government in this process, and it was entirely an internal decision of Twitter's executives.
The only politician involved in the discussions was California Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat. But he was against it. Khanna made it clear to many Twitter executives through personal emails that Twitter should allow this incident to spread on the platform, regardless of whether this incident is beneficial to the Democratic Party.
After the Twitter incident was exposed, Carner published a commentary in the Wall Street Journal, emphasizing once again that Twitter's censorship of news about Biden Jr. may help the Democratic Party's campaign, but it is not conducive to defending the basic principles of free speech. Moreover, Khanna is not from San Francisco, where Twitter is headquartered, but from the South Bay area of Silicon Valley. The U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is representing San Francisco.
This disappointed many conservatives who were waiting to see the inside story of the Democratic Party's collusion at the top of Twitter. "New York Post" columnist Miranda Devine said on FOX television, "These documents are not the big news we hoped for" (Smoking gun). Conservative media professionals Sebastian Gorka and Joe Simonson also expressed disappointment that these internal Twitter documents are not yet dry, but only prove that Twitter executives are biased towards the Democratic Party.
Twitter employees' political slant toward Democrats isn't news. In fact, employees of major technology companies in Silicon Valley generally support the Democratic Party. According to the data of technology companies donating to the two parties before the mid-term elections, 98.7% of Twitter employees’ political donations were given to the Democratic Party, ranking second among major technology companies, second only to Netflix at 99.6%. . However, Tesla employees also donated 93.9% of their donations to the Democratic Party.
Exposure of executives triggers human flesh
In addition, Musk did not cover up and smear the Twitter document at all, and directly handed it over to self-media people for publication, which also caused some controversy. Taibi also did not smear the discussion records, directly exposing the names of many Twitter executives, and even the personal mailboxes of Khanna and Dorsey. Taibi then deleted the pictures including Dorsey's personal mailbox, but continued to keep the screenshot of Kana's mailbox.
After the release of the Twitter document, Musk admitted at a Twitter Lianmai event last Saturday that there were some flaws in this behavior, including that some email addresses should be blocked. "My original intention was to clarify what happened in the past and build public trust in the future." At that time, he was connected to Lianmai through Starlink's satellite Internet service on his private plane.
After the Twitter document was released, several former Twitter executives involved in the discussion immediately became thorns in the eyes of conservatives. Their account numbers, email addresses, and photos have also been humanized on the Internet, and they have even received many personal threats. Ross, the former head of Twitter's security department who has left, said that publishing the names and identities of Twitter content control employees and exposing them to potential harm is completely unacceptable behavior.
Ross did not sign a non-disclosure agreement after leaving the job last month. In the past few weeks, he has been interviewed by the media and written commentary articles, introducing Twitter's past content control measures, and criticizing Musk's principle of "absolute freedom of speech" as unrealizable. Just last week, Ross also accused that in the past, the control of Twitter content was decided by executives in a collective discussion, but now it has completely become Musk's personal decision.
Musk's direct exposure of the identity of Twitter executives even aroused the indignation of Biz Stone, the co-founder who has been away from Twitter for many years. He commented, "I don't see why it's necessary to name (these executives), it's a dangerous move."
After several days of silence, Dorsey finally stood up and replied to Musk, "If your purpose is to rebuild trust, why not just release all the content without reservation and let the public judge for themselves? Including all discussions about current and future actions? Let it all be public." Dorsey still retains his shares in Twitter, but he's out of the way entirely and is currently busy investing in bitcoin mining in Africa.
And Musk also replied, "The most important data is hidden (including yours), and some may be deleted, but everything we can find will be published."
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