By Katabella Roberts
Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, claimed on Dec. 24 that nearly every conspiracy theory about the social media platform has turned out to be true.
Musk made the comments during an interview on the “All-In” podcast, where he also discussed the so-called “Twitter files” that were initially released earlier this month via independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss.
“To be totally frank, almost every conspiracy theory that people had about Twitter turned out to be true,” Musk said. “Is there a conspiracy theory about Twitter that didn’t turn out to be true? So far, they’ve all turned out to be true. If not more true than people thought.”
While speaking of the Twitter files, the Tesla CEO was asked if there is “a part of the files that really shocked you,” to which he responded that the “FBI stuff is pretty intense.”
The Twitter files contain multiple documents, including internal conversations among employees at the social media platform, detailing the company’s attempts to censor tweets from conservative commentators and suppress a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 election.
Twitter ‘Worked With Pentagon’
Files released earlier this month showed how the FBI worked to discredit the Biden laptop report and prevent it from spreading on the platform in October 2020, just weeks ahead of the general election that year.
Others showed how the FBI pressured Twitter to find evidence of foreign influence and sources of disinformation and to take action against specific accounts.
Files released on Dec. 21 and reported on by journalist Lee Fang detailed how Twitter had “quietly aided the Pentagon’s covert online psyop campaign” aimed at swaying opinion in the Middle East, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
According to those files, Twitter worked with the Pentagon despite claiming that it makes “concerted efforts to detect and thwart government-backed platform manipulation.”
“Despite promises to shut down covert state-run propaganda networks, Twitter docs show that the social media giant directly assisted the U.S. military’s influence operations,” wrote investigative journalist Fang of The Intercept.
“Behind the scenes, Twitter gave approval and special protection to the U.S. military’s online psychological influence ops,” Fang continued, pointing to social media accounts and online personas created by the U.S. military.
FBI Weighs in on Twitter Files
In a statement following the release of the Twitter files, the FBI said: “The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding, and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries. As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers.”
“The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public,” the statement continued. “It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”
Further files were published on Dec. 25 by Taibbi detailing how the FBI allegedly acted “as doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government—from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA.”
Taibbi explained that Twitter had “so much contact with so many agencies” that executives lost track of the communications. The meetings usually centered on “foreign matters,” according to Tabbi, including topics such as misinformation regarding Ukraine and COVID-19 vaccines.
“Despite its official remit being ‘Foreign Influence,’ the FITF [the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force] and the [San Francisco] FBI office became a conduit for mountains of domestic moderation requests, from state governments, even local police,” Taibbi said.
House Republicans have since suggested they will launch an investigation into the FBI’s interactions with Twitter.
When Musk was asked on Saturday if he suspected that the FBI played a role in flagging content for companies to take down, he noted that the content that was being flagged had “nothing to do with like, terrorism,” adding that “they literally flagged satire.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.