Some people are saying that the first installment of the Twitter Files isn’t a big deal. Maybe. But it does reveal some important details that destroy forever the Big Tech myth of a professional team that was following an objective set of rules. Instead what got on or stayed off had very much to do with personal contacts. It’s the old, “It’s a club and you’re not in it” line. Literally.
Slowly, over time, Twitter staff and executives began to find more and more uses for these tools. Outsiders began petitioning the company to manipulate speech as well: first a little, then more often, then constantly.
By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: “More to review from the Biden team.” The reply would come back: “Handled.”
Celebrities and unknowns alike could be removed or reviewed at the behest of a political party:
.Both parties had access to these tools. For instance, in 2020, requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honored.
What that meant was that if someone with influence, like say a leading member of a political campaign, objected to something you said, they could get it taken down, not based on any legal means, but because they knew someone or because being part of a political campaign meant that they were taken seriously.
How often did this happen? Who knows. But at least one of the targeted tweets had been sent out by the actor James Woods, which the DNC demanded that Twitter take down.
Twitter and likely Facebook operated under multiple sets of rules. Access defined everything.
And the howls of media acolytes all tweeting variations of the same attack at Matt Taibi, that he’s doing PR for Elon Musk, get access just how insular that access is and how much privilege there is to protect.
It’s about power. And the marketplace of ideas can’t be held hostage that way.