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Censorship - Free Speech

Twitter Files: FBI Asked Twitter to Censor Western Journalists on Behalf of Ukraine

“take urgent measures to block these Twitter accounts and provide us with user data specified during registration.”


The FBI asked Twitter to censor accounts it accused of spreading “Russian disinformation,” including a number of American and Canadian journalists, according to new emails released via the Twitter Files.

Starting in December 2022 shortly following his takeover of the company, Twitter owner Elon Musk opened up an archive of the company’s internal communications to several journalists, revealing co-ordination between the federal government and Twitter on censorship.

A newly released email dated March 27, 2022 shows FBI Special Agent Aleksandr Kobzanets passing a list of accounts to Twitter, compiled by Ukraine’s intelligence agency, the SBU. According to Kobzanets, the accounts were “suspected by the SBU in spreading fear and disinformation.”

The email contained an SBU-drafted memo with the list of accounts, asking Twitter to “take urgent measures to block these Twitter accounts and provide us with user data specified during registration.”

As reported by the Grayzone reporter Aaron Maté, one of the journalists named in the SBU memo, if Twitter granted the request, the journalist would have had “their phone number, date of birth, and email address disclosed to both the FBI and SBU.”

Yoel Roth, who was then head of Twitter’s Trust & Safety department, said that the company would review the accounts, but expressed concern that SBU named journalists in western countries as agents of disinformation.

Roth noted that the list included “a few accounts of American and Canadian journalists (e.g. Aaron Mate),” and said that Twitter would focus on rule violations and inauthentic behavior (i.e., bots).

“In general, though, authentic news outlets and reporters who cover the conflict with a pro-Russian stance are unlikely to be found in violation of our rules absent other context that might establish some kind of covert/deceptive association between them and a government,” wrote Roth. “Any additional information or context in those areas is of course welcome and appreciated.”

Twitter is not the only big tech platform that has been subject to such requests. As Breitbart News previously reported, the FBI also tried to get Facebook to censor users on behalf of Ukraine.

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