Twitter helped promote the US military’s activities in the Middle East, according to an investigation based on company files.
Twitter worked with the Pentagon to amplify propaganda about the US military’s activities in the Middle East, allowing fake accounts to push pro-US narratives despite pledging to shut down covert state-run influence campaigns, according to an investigation based on internal Twitter files.
Twitter has secretly created a special “whitelist” of accounts run by US Central Command (CENTCOM) of spam and abuse messages, giving it greater visibility on the platform, according to an investigation by Li Fang, a reporter for The Intercept.
Twitter quietly introduced the feature in 2017 after US military officials asked the company to improve visibility of 52 Arabic-language accounts used to “amplify certain messages,” according to an investigation published on Twitter and The Intercept.
Central Command’s “Priority Accounts” promoted information supporting US military narratives, including criticism of Iran, support for the US and Saudi Arabia-backed war in Yemen, and claims about the superior accuracy of US drone strikes, according to Fang.
CENTCOM later concealed its ownership of the accounts, Fang said, in some cases using photos and fake bios to give the impression they were run by civilians in the Middle East.
Fang said that while Twitter said it did not allow deceptive state-backed influence operations, the social media company was aware of Central Command’s covert activity and turned a blind eye to the accounts’ presence on the platform until at least May 2022.
1. The Twitter Files Part 8
How Twitter Quietly Aided the Pentagon’s Secret Online PsyOp Campaign
Despite promises to shut down clandestine state-run propaganda networks, Twitter documents show that the social media giant has directly aided the US military’s influence operations.
– Li Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022
One Twitter official who spoke with me said he felt cheated by the secret shift. However, several emails throughout 2020 show that high-level Twitter executives were well acquainted with the Department of Defense. [Department of Defence] “A vast network of fake accounts and covert propaganda. The accounts have not been suspended,” Fang said on Twitter on Tuesday.
For example, Twitter attorney Jim Baker stated in an email in July 2020, about an upcoming Department of Defense meeting, that the Pentagon used “poor craftsmanship” in creating its network, and was looking for strategies to not expose accounts “linked to each other” or To the Department of Defense or the Under-Secretary-General.
Baker, a former deputy general counsel for Twitter, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Twitter.
The revelations are the latest in a series of stories based on so-called “Twitter files” — internal company documents that Elon Musk, who bought Twitter in October, shared with several journalists at non-mainstream publications.
Musk, one of the world’s richest men, described the release of the documents as an effort to boost transparency about the social media platform’s operations under the previous administration, which he accused of censorship and favoring liberal opinions and personalities.
Previous iterations of the Twitter profiles have documented “blacklists” that limited access for conservative figures, as well as the internal deliberations that led to former US President Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform and the suppression of the story about Hunter Biden’s emails. laptop.
The release of Twitter’s internal files generated mixed, often polarized, reactions.
While conservatives seized on the files as evidence of Twitter’s liberal bias and hostility to free speech, many liberal figures saw the releases as showing the employees’ goodwill efforts to grapple with difficult moderation decisions.
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