How the FBI Used Twitter to Lie to You

The FBI we know is a creation of Hollywood. From the beginning, J. Edgar Hoover sought to insert the bureau into movies and TV shows, to portray the agency as grounded in American values, and special agents as righteous competence personified. Even on the far-out “X-Files,” with its hinting at nefarious government activities, Agent Mulder’s one flaw was idealism bordering on naivete. For over a century, Hollywood has upheld the belief that a federal law enforcement/internal quasi-spy agency is necessary for the safety of a free society and its citizens.

This image of the FBI fails to highlight an important fact. The FBI is allowed to lie to you. They can lie to acquire information or encourage a confession. Unlike entertainment, agents don’t need a story to fill a certain screen time, or number of theater seats. They just need to convince a very small audience just dumb enough to reveal something incriminating to their new friends.

The Bureau had Hunter Biden’s laptop by December 2019, before Joe Biden was the Democrat candidate. Although Biden was such a ghost candidate that all his campaign events combined wouldn’t have filled a stadium washroom, trained, experienced FBI employees were desperate for the opposing candidate to lose, just as they’d opposed Candidate Trump in 2016.

The targets for the FBI’s 2020 fabrication were Twitter staffers with titles like “Trust and Safety,” “Site Integrity,” “Product Trust,” or “Legal Policy and Trust.” They mostly worked to prevent 280-character tweets causing distress to potential readers with marginalized identities. There were many ex-FBI staff at Twitter, including attorney James Baker. Twitter staffers were primed to expect nefarious Russian efforts to influence the 2020 presidential election, including fake information, a laptop that didn’t belong to Hunter Biden or was hacked, salacious contents that were false and would be leaked. Being asked to help the FBI and given temporary Top Secret Clearance were ego-feeding perks. Twitter executive Yoel Roth apparently enjoyed running out of boring names for meetings with the FBI.

Twitter staff was groomed to squash a story from Russian agents, with no evidence of Russians targeting the 2020 election. After spending $100,000 on ads in 2016 with no effect, the Russians had apparently given up.

Some people working at Twitter couldn’t see how Twitter rules against hacked materials or misinformation were applicable to the Hunter laptop story published by the NY Post in October 2020. Yet they blocked the laptop story, including the link to the original story from being shared on Twitter -- or even via private messages (or DMs) between Twitter users.

The operation hid the truth just long enough that the laptop documenting crimes by the family of the next president stayed mostly unknown until after the election. By March 2022, people who had voted for the man elected in Nov. 2020 were saying they would have voted differently if they’d heard about the laptop sooner.

It would seem awfully risky to use this flimsy story to convince a social media company to keep a secret that could be revealed by other means. Why not hold an official FBI press conference to claim that Russians loaded a laptop with fabricated evidence of Biden family crimes -- perhaps adding some patently ridiculous material? The Russians would announce, “That wasn’t our work.” The FBI would reply, “Of course the Russians would say that.” The controversy would probably still be going back and forth.

Now consider how phone and internet scammers work. Someone claiming to be an IRS agent contacts the victim out of the blue regarding (nonexistent) overdue taxes. She’s scheduled to be arrested, and a SWAT team is on the way. But all this trouble can be avoided by immediately purchasing $2000 worth of retail gift cards and reading the card numbers and PINs to the scammer over the phone.

Scammers’ demands are intentionally illogical as a way to identify the most gullible targets, who won’t figure it out before the cash is gone. There’s an urgent deadline, so victims have no time to think. Threats, yelling, and insults make clear thinking even harder. Flattery can work, too, with statements like, “You remind me of my granny.” Getting the cash doesn’t end the scam. The victim’s name goes on a list of easy marks for future scams, including an offer of getting the cash returned, for a price.

FBI operatives used Twitter staffs’ irrational hatred of Trump, a story stupid enough to confirm gullibility, the short timeframe before the election, and the flattery of having been deputized by the FBI to press action by Twitter. Maybe there was even earlier gullibility testing, using claims about hate speech and COVID.

Apart from grooming staff to conceal news of Hunter’s laptop, the FBI paid Twitter over $3 million for “processing requests.” At the FBI, 80 staffers were assigned to fight right-wing nationalism via  censorship of small accounts sharing obvious jokes. The FBI National Election Command Post  pressured social media companies to censor conservative posts as misinformation. The San Francisco NECP office gave Twitter 25 items for action on 11/6/20.

Since 1908, government and entertainment have sold Americans the FBI as a super-effective law enforcement agency. The FBI’s website has a Famous Cases & Criminals section featuring 100+ crimes/criminal enterprises and 1000+ criminals. Among the cases the FBI chose to highlight, a huge percent were solved not by agents’ efforts, but someone contacting the FBI with information. An illegal immigrant angling for a green card revealed Dillinger’s location. The Unabomber’s brother called after seeing familiar ideas and phrases in the published manifesto. The profile the FBI had developed was a married, disgruntled airline mechanic who took meticulous care of his car, living near Chicago.

But the most remarkable thing about the agency is that Theodore Roosevelt created the FBI via executive order after Congress refused his request to create a national police agency. Now that agency, born in defiance of congressmen who saw no constitutional place for a national police force, is staffed by people who think it’s their right to use any means they can find or develop, to override the constitutional procedure for choosing our president.

Image: FBI

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