On Thursday, the House Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held a hearing on the ‘Twitter Files,’ the bombshell revelations that showcased a mass censorship campaign by government officials on the social media platform. To gain more insight into those revelations, independent journalist Matt Taibbi testified in front of the committee and gave a remarkable opening statement.
“My name is Matt Taibbi. I’ve been a reporter for 30 years and a stance advocate of the first amendment,” the journalist began. “Much of that time I’ve been at the Rolling Stone magazine. Ranking Member Plaskett I am not a ‘so-called journalist.’ I have won the National Magazine Award, the I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and I’ve written ten books including four New York Times bestsellers. I am now the editor of the online magazine Racket on the independent platform Substack.”
“I’m here today because of a series of events that began late last year when I received a note from a source online,” he explained. “It read ‘Are you interested in doing a deep dive into what censorship manipulation is going on at Twitter.’ A week later the first of what became known as the Twitter Files reports came out. To say these attracted intense public interest would be an understatement. My computer looked like a Vegas slot machine.”
The journalist then went on to explain that what was found in the files they were granted access to was an effort to “turn the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control.”
He then posited that the federal government was central in this effort via its communications to Twitter employees to request censorship of certain accounts of both left and right-leaning individuals, making the censorship a bipartisan issue.
Taibbi went on to explain that for every federal agency that was monitoring Twitter, 20 private enterprises were doing the same including News Guard, Stanford’s Election Integrity Partnership, and others.
He went on to explain that Americans were put on lists to be censored, an act that he called “digital McCarthyism’ leading to the refusal of services on sites like PayPal or GoFundMe.
One of the most damning revelations in Taibbi’s opening remarks was that mainstream media journalists were often participating in the censorship of individuals: “Instead of investigating these groups, journalists partnered with them. If Twitter declined to remove an account right away, government agencies and NGOs would call reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, and other outlets who in turn would call Twitter demanding to know why action had yet to be taken. Effectively, news media became an arm of a state-sponsored thought policing system.
The journalist concluded his remarks by stating that the evidence that he has seen is an attempt to enforce a political consensus online which he deemed “a grave threat.”
“If there is anything the Twitter Files show is that we are in danger of losing this [Freedom of Speech] most precious right that which all democratic rights are possible,” he concluded.
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