January 31, 2023

That was the intrigue Friday night at Elon Musk’s social-media service, Twitter: in his words, “what really happened with the Hunter Biden story suppression by Twitter.”

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Musk turned to Matt Tabby, a former Rolling Stone journalist, to reveal — in a sometimes painfully slow process — what Bill billed as “the Twitter files.” Taibbi said it was based on thousands of internal documents he called “sources” on Twitter, which appear to have been shown to him with Musk’s full blessing. Tabby said he had to agree to undisclosed terms in order to gain access, which appears to mean that his story was disseminated using Twitter rather than his personal Substack account.

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Tibbey criticized Twitter’s decision to remove a link to a New York Post report about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, warning it was unsafe, and to block transmission via direct message, at the height of the 2020 presidential election campaign. Delayed. According to the files, it turns out that the decision was made by the company’s trust and security team, but without input from then-CEO Jack Dorsey. Members of Twitter’s own communications team were quoted in a company email as being surprised by the response. Dorsey later said that the decision was a mistake.

Despite ongoing talks with both the Biden and Trump campaign teams, Tibbie showed no government effort to push Twitter into its actions. In fact, one Democratic lawmaker — Rep. Ro Khanna — questioned why the social media service was restricting the spread.

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Reaction to Taibbi’s post on Twitter was not surprisingly partisan. To conservatives, Taibbi showed leftist leanings in the senior ranks of Silicon Valley’s major technology companies. To liberals, Taibbi represented nothing more than a private company struggling to properly respond to a breaking news story, unsure whether it was legitimate in a time of foreign interference in US elections.

Taibbi also showed the second time that the Biden campaign got Twitter to remove content, though he did not reference that the deleted tweets included pictures of Hunter Biden’s private parts. It became part of the First Amendment debate, in which Musk himself took part.

Taibbi also did not edit out individual email addresses, Violating Twitter’s own policies.

News Corp also owns the Dow Jones, publisher of the New York Post as well as Marketwatch.