Top congressional Democrats and the corrupt corporate media falsely branded calls for the declassification of Devin Nunes’ memorandum on FISA abuse a Russia influence operation, internal documents from Twitter released Thursday reveal. And while Twitter executives knew the story was false, they allowed the narrative to grow rather than correct the record.
Soon after the then-chair of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes penned a classified Jan. 18, 2018, memorandum detailing abuses by the Department of Justice and FBI to obtain a FISA surveillance order on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, #ReleaseTheMemo began trending on Twitter. Within days, Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a press release announcing they had sent a letter to Twitter and Facebook requesting the tech giants “immediately conduct an in-depth forensic examination of the reported actions by Russian bots and trolls surrounding the #ReleaseTheMemo online campaign and how users were exposed to this campaign as a result of Russian efforts.”
To support their claim that the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign represented “Russian efforts,” Feinstein and Schiff cited the Alliance for Securing Democracy, or ASD, and its claim that the hashtag “gained the instant attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations.”
Democrat Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse soon issued their own missive to Twitter, even though the internal communications released on Thursday revealed attempts by Twitter executives to warn senator staffers that the story of a Russian influence campaign didn’t stand.
“We find it reprehensible that Russian agents have so eagerly manipulated innocent Americans,” the senators wrote, also relying on ASD’s view that the trending of the hashtag represented a Russian influence operation.
But internal communications from Twitter made public in the latest Twitter Files thread by independent journalist Matt Taibbi reveal the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign was organic and Twitter had concluded that ASD, the only source for claims that Russian bots and trolls were behind the trending of the hashtag, had used a “flawed methodology.”
“We should have a separate discussion about if/when/how we confront ASD privately with our knowledge of their flawed methodology/dashboard and seek to help them reorient in a more accurate direction,” one Twitter insider wrote after the Schiff-Feinstein press release dropped.
Another Twitter executive seemed fine with going public, writing: “If ASD isn’t going to fact check with us, we should feel free to correct the record of their work.”
For his part, Yoel Roth, the former Twitter head of trust and safety, raised the question of whether it was “now the time to go public with the fact that any given user only counts once towards a trend?” Roth continued: “Given all the swirl around #releasethememo is based on [ASD], which is based on raw tweet count, we’d be able to broadly refute it without actually sharing anything too sensitive.”
While Roth’s email didn’t explain why he believed ASD’s conclusions rested on “raw tweet count,” another Twitter exchange referenced the fact that unbeknownst to ASD, Twitter had “reverse-engineered” ASD’s dashboard.
Notwithstanding Twitter’s belief that the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag trend originated naturally and not as a result of Russian interference, and its assessment that ASD’s contrary conclusion stemmed from a flawed methodology, the internal emails published Thusday reveal Twitter decided against countering ASD’s Russian bot narrative. Rather, Twitter limited its on-the-record, for-attribution response to a statement that it “is committed to addressing malicious activity on our platform, and we take any assertions of such activity very seriously.” Twitter also told reporters, while refusing to allow the media to attribute the statement to Twitter’s spokesman, that it had “been monitoring closely since #releasethememo started trending late last week,” and that the hashtag “appears to be organically trending.”
While “off the record,” Twitter “cautioned” reporters for why they “should be very skeptical of ASD’s claims, the tech giant did not say to the press what its insiders were saying to each other: that the entire Russian bot narrative relied on ASD’s flawed methodology.
Likewise, while Twitter responded to the congressional inquiries by stating that, based on available data, it had “not identified any significant activity connected to Russia with respect to Tweets posting original content to this hashtag,” Twitter did not challenge ASD’s contrary conclusion.
By keeping quiet about ASD’s “flawed methodology,” as Twitter framed it, the tech giant allowed Democrat politicians and the press to push yet another Russia hoax. And as Nunes told The Federalist, in spreading the Russia hoax, “Democrat members of Congress were not legislating in the public interest, the media was not honestly informing the public, and the intelligence community was not defending Americans against foreign adversaries.” Instead, they all “melded into a giant, hideous propaganda apparatus with the single goal of deceiving the American people into believing something that wasn’t true.”
The irony here is that while, in response to the claim that the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag was a Russian-influence campaign, Twitter professed it was “committed to addressing malicious activity on our platform,” by failing to forcefully, directly, and publicly counter ASD’s assertions of Russian involvement, the tech giant allowed Democrats to maliciously proliferate the Russian-bot narrative on Twitter.