It was hyped as a big revelation, proof of a political conspiracy. Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk gave journalist Matt Taibbi access to some of Twitter’s internal communications from before he took over, saying they would show “what really happened with the Hunter Biden story suppression,” referring to an October 2020 New York Post article about a laptop allegedly belonging to then presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son. Musk promised it’d be “awesome.” Conservative media figures, Elon Musk fans, and Biden opponents were excited.
In advance of the release, MIT computer scientist and Musk booster Lex Fridman called it “historic,” and claimed it will “strengthen our democracy” because “transparency helps keep people honest and minimize undue influence from politics and money.”
Selectively releasing internal information without external oversight is not transparency, especially not when attempting to support a preconceived narrative. The public knows this is a fraction of Twitter’s internal documentation, but doesn’t know what they chose to hold back, and for what purpose. Taibbi said he “had to agree to certain conditions” to review what Musk showed him, but didn’t say what those were.
The release was a marketing gimmick. The inaccurate claim of transparency is another.
But that doesn’t mean the information is devoid of value. No one who appears in the released communications is disputing their accuracy, so with proper caveats, we can learn things from them.
Anyone looking for more insight into how Twitter, and social media companies in general, deal with content moderation might learn something. Anyone looking for proof of a political conspiracy will find that even this information, selectively released by people trying to make it look like a big scandal, showed that it wasn’t. [Continue reading…]
I don’t really expect the world’s richest man to have even a passing familiarity with what the First Amendment does and doesn’t mean.@mtaibbi knows *exactly* what it does and doesn’t mean, and he carries water for @elonmusk anyway. Despicable.
— Ty Schalter (@tyschalter) December 3, 2022
Matt Taibbi…what sad, disgraceful downfall. I swear, kids, he did good work back in the day. Should be a cautionary tale for everyone. Selling your soul for the richest white nationalist on Earth. Well, he'll eat well for the rest of his life I guess. But is it worth it?
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) December 2, 2022