Twitter secretly boosted US military propaganda: Investigation | Social Media News
Twitter helped promote US military activities in the Middle East, according to an investigation based on company files.
Twitter worked with the Pentagon to boost propaganda about US military operations in the Middle East, allowing fake accounts to push pro-US narratives despite promising to end covert state-run influence campaigns, according to a investigation based on Twitter’s internal files.
Twitter has secretly created a special “whitelist” that exempts accounts run by US Central Command (CENTCOM) from spam and abuse flags, giving them greater visibility on the platform, according to the investigation by Lee Fang, a reporter from The Intercept.
Twitter quietly introduced the feature in 2017 after US military officials asked the company to improve the visibility of 52 Arabic-language accounts used to “amplify certain messages”, according to the investigation.
CENTCOM’s “priority accounts” promoted information in support of U.S. military narratives, including criticism of Iran, support for the U.S.- and Saudi Arabia-backed war in Yemen, and claims about the superior accuracy of U.S. drone strikes, according to Fang.
CENTCOM subsequently hid its ownership of the accounts, Fang said, in some cases using fake profile pictures and bios to give the impression that they were run by civilians in the Middle East.
While Twitter has said it does not allow fraudulent state-backed influence operations, the social media company was aware of CENTCOM’s covert activity and tolerated the presence of the accounts on the platform until at least May 2022, Fang said.
1. TWITTER FILES PART 8
*How Twitter Quietly Aided the Pentagon’s Secret Online PsyOp Campaign*
Despite promises to shut down covert state-run propaganda networks, Twitter documents show the social media giant directly assisted the US military’s influence operations.
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022
“One Twitter official who spoke to me said he felt misled by the secret move. Yet many emails from throughout 2020 show that high-level Twitter executives were well aware of DoDs [Department of Defence] huge network of fake accounts and covert propaganda and did not suspend the accounts,” Fang said on Twitter on Tuesday.
“For example, in a July 2020 email, Twitter attorney Jim Baker opined about an upcoming DoD meeting that the Pentagon used ‘poor craft’ to set up its network, and sought strategies to not exposing the accounts ‘linked to each’. others or to DoD or the USG’.”
Baker, Twitter’s former deputy general counsel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Twitter.
The revelations are the latest in a series of stories based on the 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, viewed the release of the documents as an effort to promote transparency about the social media platform’s operations under previous management, which he accused of censorship and favoring liberal views and personalities.
Previous iterations of the Twitter files have documented “blacklists” that limited the reach of conservative figures, as well as the internal deliberations that led to the suspension of former US President Donald Trump from the platform and the suppression of the story about e- mails on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
The release of Twitter’s internal files caused a mixed, often polarized reaction.
While conservatives have seized on the files as evidence of Twitter’s liberal bias and hostility to free speech, many liberal figures have seen the releases as evidence of the good faith efforts of employees to wrestle with difficult moderation decisions.