The FBI’s “National Election Command Post” (NECP) sent an email asking its San Francisco field office to pressure Twitter to censor the Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN), a conservative news channel made popular by streaming Trump campaign rallies, two days before the 2022 midterm elections.
In the email, dated November 6, 2022, the NECP gave its San Francisco field office a list of 25 accounts “being utilized to spread misinformation about the upcoming election,” a list which included RSBN.
The NECP asked the field office to coordinate with Twitter to “determine whether the accounts identified below have violated Twitter’s terms of service and may be subject to any actions deemed appropriate by Twitter.”
The National Election Command Post (NECP) is requesting assistance from SF regarding coordination with Twitter. Specifically, NECP has been made aware of tweets by certain accounts that may warrant additional action due to the accounts being utilized to spread misinformation about the upcoming election. Specifically, NECP is requesting the following:
- Coordination between SF and Twitter to determine whether the accounts identified below have violated Twitter’s terms of service and may be subject to any actions deemed appropriate by Twitter.
- The issuance of preservation letters regarding the accounts identified below in order to preserve subscriber information and content information pending the issuance of legal process.
- Any location information associated with the accounts that Twitter will voluntarily provide to aid the FBI in assigning any follow-up deemed necessary to the appropriate FBI field office.
The emails came to light in another installment of the Twitter files. Elon Musk’s Twitter once again disclosed documents to a journalist, in this case Matt Taibbi, which shed light on the inner workings of censorship at the social media platform.
https://t.co/ZQeb9Ko06p an internal email from November 5, 2022, the FBI’s National Election Command Post, which compiles and sends on complaints, sent the SF field office a long list of accounts that “may warrant additional action”: pic.twitter.com/yILcgjFyev
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 16, 2022
Taibbi dubbed this installment: “TWITTER, THE FBI SUBSIDIARY.”
“Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary,” wrote Taibbi. “Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.”
“Some are mundane, like San Francisco agent Elvis Chan wishing Roth a Happy New Year along with a reminder to attend “our quarterly call next week.” Others are requests for information into Twitter users related to active investigations.”
“But a surprisingly high number are requests by the FBI for Twitter to take action on election misinformation, even involving joke tweets from low-follower accounts.”
Taibbi noted that the FBI’s involvement in combating “misinformation” is a relatively recent development. The Foreign Influence Task Force (FTIF) was created in the wake of the 2016 election.
This task force, wrote Taibbi, “swelled to 80 agents and corresponded with Twitter to identify alleged foreign influence and election tampering of all kinds.”
The Twitter files, explained Taibbi, show “agencies like the FBI and DHS regularly sending social media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation.”
With its targeting of RSBN, the Twitter files appear to show something more than that: federal authorities trying to suppress journalism.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.