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Musk Gives Right Wingers Access to Internal Twitter Systems to Spread Propaganda

The “Twitter Files” elevate false narratives and serve to uplift dangerous right-wing figures.

Twitter Headquarters is seen in San Francisco, California, on November 18, 2022.

Right-wing billionaire Elon Musk has given prominent conservative figures access to Twitter’s internal systems this week to create and publicize the so-called Twitter Files — a trove of information that Musk is using to “expose” the social media platform’s supposed left-wing bias under its previous management but that, in reality, only serves to spread far right conspiracy theories and propaganda.

This week, conservative columnist Bari Weiss was in charge of Twitter Files part two, writing a Twitter thread showing that, under previous management, the visibility of some of the most hateful right-wing accounts on the platform had been limited. Although this was presented as a groundbreaking discovery, Weiss didn’t detail anything about Twitter’s previous content moderation that wasn’t already known.

In fact, Weiss’s thesis that Twitter was biased against the right before Musk took over is entirely false: by previous Twitter leaders’ own admission, the platform’s algorithm actually favored right-wing politicians and news outlets in the U.S. and five other countries. Further, while Weiss attempted to show that virulently anti-LGBTQ account Libs of TikTok was censored, her screenshot of the account in Twitter’s back end showed a large banner that instructed employees not to take action to suppress the account without consulting the site’s policy team.

In her thread, Weiss only showed moderated accounts belonging to right-wingers and misleadingly highlighted phrases meant to be viewed only by Twitter employees to spread disinformation about how Twitter operated before Musk — all with the likely goal of giving Musk leeway to continue censoring the left and uplifting the right on the platform, under the extremely dubious guise of non-partisanship.

Weiss’s thread came after Musk employed increasingly conservative writer Matt Taibbi to do public relations for him in Twitter Files part one last week. Musk used Taibbi to show how Twitter had supposedly suppressed right-wing conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Taibbi’s smoking gun — internal emails about deleted tweets on Hunter Biden — only revealed that the company had complied with the Joe Biden campaign’s request that the site take down nude photos of Hunter Biden, which the right had attempted to leak without his consent.

That Weiss and other conservative figures were granted unprecedented access to Twitter’s back end — and potentially even users’ private messages — is concerning not only for its ideological implications but also for safety reasons, as the screenshots shared by Weiss carry a watermark indicating that she was given access via the company’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin.

Musk’s Twitter Files — and who he assigned them to — are extremely telling of his intentions for the social media platform. Bari Weiss is infamous among progressive circles for her vehement anti-Palestinian sentiment and screeds against so-called cancel culture that are, in actuality, thinly disguised rejections of anti-racist social justice movements; when she voluntarily resigned from her position regularly writing hateful and widely circulated New York Times opinion pieces, she complained that she was being cancelled.

Matt Taibbi, once a liberal, has aligned himself with the right in recent years, spreading right-wing COVID conspiracy theories in his Substack newsletter, loudly decrying the left, and, like Weiss, deriding “cancel culture” in part to spring to right-wing fame.

Musk apparently gave other prominent right-wing figures special access to Twitter as well. Notoriously transphobic Abigail Shrier, author of the hateful, dangerous anti-trans book Irreversible Damage, said on Twitter that she was part of Weiss’s “team” that was given access to Twitter’s internal systems. In fact, all of the people that Musk has given access to — Shrier, Weiss and Taibbi — are known for their anti-trans sentiments, reflecting a particular hatred that Musk has against trans people.

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