Documents revealed as part of the seventh installment of the “Twitter Files” exposé have shed light on the FBI’s efforts to pressure Twitter to grant agents access to user data in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election.
The latest drop of the Twitter Files on Monday revealed that former Twitter Trust and Safety head Yoel Roth resisted the bureau’s efforts to coerce the platform into providing data outside of the normal search-warrant process.
Roth was directly involved in the old regime’s censorship on Twitter, including the suppression of the New York Post’s explosive report on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
An analysis of internal documents conducted by journalist Michael Shellenberger revealed that in December 2019, a supervisory special agent of the FBI’s national security cyber wing working out of the bureau’s San Francisco field office asked Roth if the company would revise its terms of service to permit a vendor contracted with the bureau to access the Twitter data feed.
Shellenberger's findings indicate that the FBI had been in contact with Twitter executives for months prior to the release of the New York Post article, and had sent documents to the company's Head of Site Integrity just hours before the story was published.
Furthermore, Shellenberger's research suggests that the FBI had been pressuring Twitter and Facebook leadership to expect “hack-and-leak operations” from state actors, despite the fact that no new intelligence had prompted them to reach such a conclusion.
These revelations raise serious questions about the role of the FBI in policing content on social media platforms and the extent to which the agency is willing to go to influence the public discourse.
Weeks later, Roth wrote a suggested response to a colleague rejecting the offer and taking a firm stance to protect user privacy. Twitter’s then director of policy and philanthropy, Carlos Monje Jr., also urged caution in response to the FBI’s insistence about gathering user data.
The Daily Wire reported:
The FBI also paid Twitter more than $3.4 million for their “legal process response,” apparently referencing the time Twitter executives spent coordinating with the agency.
FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sent ten documents to former Twitter Head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth on the evening of October 13, hours before the New York Post article would be released. Chan urged Roth that the documents were “not spam” and asked him to “confirm receipt.” Two minutes later, Roth replied: “Received and downloaded – thanks!”
Nevertheless, the FBI worked relentlessly to influence journalists and social media executives. One workshop hosted by the Aspen Institute in September 2020 prepared Roth, the head of security policy at Meta, and the top national security reporters for the New York Times and the Washington Post on how to handle a purported document dump from Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where Biden provided scant services for enormous paychecks.
In a previous installment of the “Twitter Files,” released by Matt Taibbi, broke the news that the FBI had frequently communicated with Roth’s team before Elon Musk bought the company.
Between January 2020 and November 2022, over 150 emails were exchanged between the FBI and Roth, Taibbi uncovered. The documents revealed as part of the “Twitter Files” exposé demonstrate the lengths to which the FBI was willing to go to gain access to user data in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election.