A host of internal Twitter documents, collectively known as the “Twitter Files,” have been released by multiple journalists in recent weeks and detail, among other things, the influence of federal authorities in the social media platform’s content moderation decisions.
The most recent installment included evidence that the House Intelligence Committee, led by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), reached out to Twitter officials in an effort to remove content posted by his critics.
In one email sent in November 2020, a Schiff aide cited tweets by RealClearInvestigations report Paul Sperry and conservative author Greg Rubini as evidence that both men had been peddling conspiracy theories that constituted harassment of the panel’s members and staff.
27.They also received an astonishing variety of requests from officials asking for individuals they didn’t like to be banned. Here, the office for Democrat and House Intel Committee chief Adam Schiff asks Twitter to ban journalist Paul Sperry: pic.twitter.com/SXI1ekqi13
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023
“Would like to get your thoughts on your ability if any to support any of these requests,” the email said in reference to appeals such as the removal of “any and all” content related to intelligence committee staffers.
While Twitter replied that it was not “feasible” to take down every post related to committee staff, a representative did promise to review the accounts of Sperry and Rubini in accordance with the aide’s request that they both be suspended. In the end, the review appeared to have resulted in the suspension of Perry’s Twitter profile.
The revelations led to some pointed criticism aimed at Schiff, who has been a vocal opponent of Elon Musk’s behavior since the billionaire acquired Twitter last year.
“Elon Musk calls himself a free speech absolutist, to justify turning a blind eye to hatred and bigotry on Twitter,” Schiff wrote last month. “But when journalists report unfavorable news, they are banned without warning. The devotion to free speech is apparently not that absolute. But the hypocrisy is.”
The real hypocrisy, wrote a number of Twitter users in response to the latest document dump, can be found in Schiff’s actions behind the scenes.
One tweet mentioned the California Democrat directly, asking: “Hey [Adam Schiff], remember 2 weeks ago when you said you didn’t do things like this?”
Mark Hemingway, a senior writer at RealClearInvestigations, defended Perry in light of the new information, arguing that “Sperry’s real crime was doing vital reporting exposing the mistruths about Russia collusion, a subject Schiff lied about for years.”