Staffers for Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California made repeated requests for Twitter to censor and suppress posts by users on the social media platform, according to documents published Friday by independent journalist Matt Taibbi.
Schiff’s office requested complete removal of “any and all search results about [Schiff staffer Sean] Misko and other committee staffers,” a request that Twitter denied as inconceivable under its rules, according to the documents. Schiff’s staff and the Democratic National Committee asked Twitter to remove an April 26, 2020 tweet containing an edited GIF of Joe Biden sticking his tongue out after then-President Donald Trump retweeted it, something Twitter staff also denied, the documents show. (RELATED: Adam Schiff’s Office Asked Twitter To Ban Investigative Journalist, Docs Show)
“This is a pretty clearly edited GIF created with humorous intent,” former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth wrote in an Apr. 27, 2020 email, the documents show. “Any reasonable observer could identify that it’s doctored. And there’s no nexus to harm to anyone involved. It’s not a violation of our rules.”
5.Twitter also refused requests for bans of content about Schiff and his staff, e.g. “complete suppress[ion of] any and all search results about Mr. Misko and other Committee staffers.” Twitter said this would not be “conceivable.” pic.twitter.com/2HQrmp4fnY
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 13, 2023
Nonetheless, Schiff staffer Jeff Lowenstein expressed concern that the post represented a “slippery slope,” the documents show. Lowenstein expressed concern to Twitter staff that even if the edited content in the April 26, 2020, tweet was not in violation of Twitter policy, Twitter needed to lay out clear rules so it could act quickly on “more malicious and less obvious[ly]” edited content.
Taibbi previously reported on January 3, 2023, that Schiff’s office had lobbied Twitter to ban investigative journalist Paul Sperry and remove content pertaining to Schiff staffers in a November 2020 request. Twitter initially declined to ban Sperry, although he was ultimately suspended in August 2022.
Although Twitter pushed back on requests for outright bans, it did regularly deamplify, or reduce the reach of, accounts that promoted content related to QAnon, according to the documents. While Schiff’s office “greatly appreciate[d]” the efforts to deamplify users content, it was concerned that deamplification might “inadvertently impede” law enforcement’s ability to find threats posed to Congressional staff.
Previous releases of documents, dubbed “The Twitter Files” by Twitter CEO Elon Musk and the reporting journalists, have shown an extensive and close relationship between Twitter and intelligence agencies like the FBI, which regularly queried the social media platform to remove content.
Schiff’s office did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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