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The Twitter Files are important for everyone to understand and be upset about, not because Twitter (and Google and Facebook) are politically biased, but because they are biased toward "the Machine," the elite establishment and entrenched bureaucracy that run this country (if not the globe) for their own benefit and always have, to be honest, but are less and less doing people the favor of trying to maintain the illusion that that is not in fact true. In other words, if you want to produce change in this country or leave any semblance of power in the hands of the people, rather than turning them into a serf class, you will understand how all these big tech companies along with your "Maw" attempt to force people to live in a pseudo reality of their own creation, one where everything people physically experience doesn't matter. We're supposed to accept what the "experts" and talking heads tell us is truth rather than our own eyes. That is the lesson of the Twitter files.

And being "right-coded" these days simply means you refuse to buy into that reality or accept that they *should* have the power to create that reality. It has absolutely nothing to do with your principles or politics. And that, my friend, is frightening because in that pseudo-reality, anyone "right-coded" is considered a danger to the "people's," the "democracy's," the "country's" (read: the Machine's) existence and it will turn its mindless drones on you, on Twitter and eventually in the physical world.

That's why you should care.

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Savages, savages/

Barely even human

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100%

Impressed by the degree to which Center/Periphery is now more explanatory than Left/Right

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Thank you. Things made a lot more sense when I read a Leighton Woodhouse article a long time ago on this subject and suddenly understood what I was looking at.

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Got a link?

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Took me a bit to find it in his archives, and I hope you can see it, but here is one specific post: https://leightonwoodhouse.substack.com/p/revolt-of-the-public-video

And here is a link to Leighton Woodhouse's Substack page. I really like his writing. https://leightonwoodhouse.substack.com/

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You're the best, thank you!

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People can't force themselves to care but it's utterly mystifying to me how a lifelong leftist can look at this and conclude "welp, a company like Twitter can never be just and equitable", as if that's the extent of the material and systemic issue. This is a dictionary-definition union of state and corporate power - it's been conclusively shown that we crazies on the Right were correct all along, and our intelligence agencies and major political figures were involved in the censoring and 'boosting' of American speech via their ties to a major corporation. Again, if people don't care, they don't care, but they should at least be explicit about what doesn't interest them.

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I don't think the Left is into the union of state and corporate power. Or did I miss that meeting?

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Well sure, corporations and the state colluding and achieving more power is something. Not sure I'd call that Left though. And when the killing starts I'm not sure if the CEO should be worried or the worker.

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It's not about "left" and "right," really, but those in America who call themselves the "left" very much are, at the moment, into the union of state and corporate power. Read the so-called Twitter Files. That's nothing but a linking of state and corporate power.

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So, you are a globalist corporatist like the Biden Democrats.

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> It's not about "left" and "right

The most-liked reply to your original comment is about how "we crazies on the Right were correct all along".

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It's a difficult mental prison to break out of. I can't even claim to be entirely free myself.

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That was my comment and not hers, so she can't really be held responsible for it. Although to be fair, there were a few - a very few - voices on the left warning of this same thing, and how it would one day come back to bite the Left. Glenn Greenwald holds that view, for example.

Right now it's wielded against the Right but who knows what the future holds? Think back 20 years to the growth of the US surveillance state; would we have thought, back then, it would be soon wrapped in a rainbow flag?

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You did. They merged a long time back.

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Why? So ideological power attained by any means, as long as it favors your ideas, is a good thing?

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J6 was as justified and along the same lines as the riots across the summer of 2020, no better, no worse, and only idiots would think that the 2020 was the "cleanest election in history." It was little better than something that would happen in a third world dictatorship.

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I know that `poisoning the well' is a logical fallacy, but you really undermine your own credibility and whatever point you were trying to make above by taking these stances.

I take it that COVID originated in a lab, too?

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KT is a troll. Waste your time only if you have time to waste.

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Whether it's good or not it's secondary to whether it's useful

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You may not be in the correct cadre of Red Guard to survive it all.

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“t's been conclusively shown that we crazies on the Right were correct all along, and our intelligence agencies and major political figures were involved in the censoring and 'boosting' of American speech via their ties to a major corporation”

Except the Twitter files show nothing of the sort?

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How not? I'm not sure how you can read any of particularly what Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger put out and conclude this. Matt Taibbi's thread was a little more vague (with "influencer" being the Biden campaign primarily), but not Weiss and Shellenberger. They conclusively proved that the intelligence agencies were meeting with Twitter (and other Big Tech firms) and that Twitter was taking their cues from them.

And if there's any doubt about this, you have James Baker, the former chief counsel for the FBI, "vetting" the files that Taibbi and Weiss were receiving, with Musk admitting that he may have deleted material. Why would he do that if not to save his former employer? It obviously didn't save him.

And then you have Mark Zuckerberg going on Joe Rogan and admitting that the FBI warned them about "hacked materials," having to do with Hunter Biden. The FBI had that computer for a year! They knew it was real. Yet they were running around telling Facebook (and presumably every other tech company) that they should be on the look out for a *false* story about Hunter Biden to drop. And when the laptop story did drop, they did nothing to say, hey, this isn't disinformation. We have the laptop. They knew the truth would come out, so they ran around doing damage control, knowing full well that only one party in Congress (of only two) was gunning for the Big Tech companies if they didn't "moderate" more. They played on that fear to squash the story and get their man elected.

It's rank and it's obvious.

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He may; he may not.

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"The FBI had that computer for a year! They knew it was real. Yet they were running around telling Facebook (and presumably every other tech company) that they should be on the look out for a *false* story about Hunter Biden to drop"

Yeah, if this is true it might be the worst thing about the Twitter files.

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Having the laptop and knowing what was on it does not prevent false stories about what was on it from circulating. We don't know the details of what the FBI told FB. It might have been, let us review whether a story you're going to run (about laptop contents) is true or not.

And what, exactly, was ON the laptop (that was not previously public knowledge, like Hunter getting paid by Burisma) that we're supposed to be all worked up about?

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As I mentioned in another reply, I have a professional background in social media content moderation (I worked as a data scientist in this area, though not at twitter). So I have enough understanding of this space to recognize the degree to which Taibbi, Weiss, and etc decontextualized the released documents in order to generate a narrative.

“hey conclusively proved that the intelligence agencies were meeting with Twitter (and other Big Tech firms) and that Twitter was taking their cues from them.” All large social media companies have routine contact with various US law enforcement agencies. This is a two-way relationship, LE will come to these companies in the context of various active investigations, and these companies will flag content that they think is worth the attention of LE agencies. Post 2016 misinformation and foreign election influence became an area of concern for both the FBI and for social media companies, and it became one of the many areas in which they maintained contact. That doesn’t mean that companies were “taking their cues” from the FBI, it just means that they had these meetings, from the LE side these meetings would be advisory “FYI” type stuff. I don’t think this should be controversial!

As for why James Baker would revise the twitter files: James Baker worked at Twitter as their deputy general counsel. For *every* large company, *any* release of documentation is going to involve review by counsel to ensure among other things: that the released documents do not expose user information, that they don’t expose trade secrets, and that they don’t expose any legally incriminating information about the company’s activities. If he deleted any material, it was for these reasons. Imagining that he did it to “save his former employer” is conspiracy theorizing.

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"This is a two-way relationship, LE will come to these companies in the context of various active investigations, and these companies will flag content that they think is worth the attention of LE agencies. "

Absolutely and completely improper. Maybe that's the status quo but it is rotten to the core.

Plus how is the disclosure of this simple fact in and of itself not newsworthy? Do you think that the average Twitter user is uninterested in the possibility that his Tweet could literally be reported to the authorities?

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Out of curiosity: what do you think social media companies should do when they detect something like child porn?

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Do you think that companies in America can ignore a subpoena?

What are they supposed to do when men with badges and guns and a letter from a judge?

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"All large social media companies have routine contact with various US law enforcement agencies. This is a two-way relationship, LE will come to these companies in the context of various active investigations, and these companies will flag content that they think is worth the attention of LE agencies. Post 2016 misinformation and foreign election influence became an area of concern for both the FBI and for social media companies, and it became one of the many areas in which they maintained contact. That doesn’t mean that companies were “taking their cues” from the FBI, it just means that they had these meetings, from the LE side these meetings would be advisory “FYI” type stuff. I don’t think this should be controversial!"

Well, you don't think it should be controversial because you favor a union of state and corporate power for arbitrary purposes, far beyond the purview of law. This isn't the same as LE flagging (for example) child sexual abuse imagery for removal, or Twitter telling LE about people posting it so they can be arrested. This is the suppression and artificial boosting of completely legal speech at the behest of the intelligence agencies and a major corporation.

If you regard that as non-controversial, that's fine, that is an opinion you're allowed to hold, but it flies in the face of centuries of American jurisprudence and Western liberal thought, and I think you'll find it an uphill battle to convince normal people of your wisdom.

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"I have a professional background in social media content moderation"

So, when did you sell your soul, and how much did you get?

Follow up question: If you don't work for Twitter, do you work for Goeggles?

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"As I mentioned in another reply, I have a professional background in social media content moderation..."

Oh Jeez, another "expert". Old Twitter always led their What's Happening section with some kinda bullsh!t proclaiming "Inflation is good for you, according to experts"

Seeing this tactic repeatedly in action, one comes to realize that our nation is led by the Incompetent

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"I have a professional background in social media content moderation"

So you were a leftist censor, also. No wonder you see nothing wrong.

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Guess what, jannie? The Fifth Circuit has just slapped you down. No more cozy "conversations" that just happen to end up in collusion between state and corporate power:

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/08/business/appeals-court-first-amendment-social-media.html

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If you've genuinely reached that conclusion after reading the entirety of the leaks (most notably part 3) - even if you believe there may be mitigating circumstances that haven't yet been released - then you're simply incapable of fairly evaluating evidence. That's your cross to bear and I wish you luck with it.

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“Fairly evaluating evidence” necessarily involves placing that evidence in context.

I happen to have a professional background in content moderation on large social media platforms (albeit not at twitter). As such I’m aware of the industry standards in terms of processes, policy development, and etc. That background lets me recognize that Taibbi, Weiss, and etc have decontextualized the produced documents in order to produce what is--in my judgment--a misleading narrative.

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Removed (Banned)Dec 12, 2022·edited Dec 12, 2022
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Plus the standards are written, discussed, and executed in secret and arbitrarily applied.

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I think "Social media companies regularly have meetings with the government" is kind of a big news story...

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I don't see why. Large-scale communications systems of ALL kinds (telephone, radio, TV, ...) have ALWAYS had strong government oversight. By this historical standard, social media has gotten far LESS government oversight than has been the norm.

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"Trust me, I'm an expert. Our meetings with three letter agencies were totally chill and you don't need to worry."

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Obviously with regards to what I say you can take it or leave it, I’m just a dude posting on the internet!

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Right, but you're swimming in it, so you don't know how the context doesn't help. "No, see, we work with the intelligence agencies to censor perfectly legal speech and to amplify that which we find valuable - but we have procedures in place to do it, so it's OK!" This sounds absolutely terrible to anyone who isn't either working for those organizations or a Democratic loyalist. You're so cloistered that you can't see how putting some lame fact-check about 'policy development' on it only makes it worse: that you have scripts and processes *for the policing of completely legal speech via a union of state and corporate power* is utterly monstrous and un-American, and every single normal person knows it.

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Yes, it is OK, because Twitter is a PRIVATE COMPANY that can do whatever it wants with the content people give it to distribute, including running it by government agencies.

Don't like what Twitter does with content? Then do what I do: DON'T USE IT, either as a writer or a reader.

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So law enforcement agencies routinely met with social media companies as part of efforts to monitor and suppress content deemed by those agencies to be "misinformation" (such an Orwellian b.s. term). It strikes me as bizarre that anyone would accept this as an appropriate use of government resources, as opposed to a subterranean censorship effort that is, at a minimum, in tension with the First Amendment and longstanding political and legal norms. And saying "Oh, I worked in social media content moderation" isn't really an argument - at least not one that offers any kind of coherent response to the criticisms of the law enforcement and intelligence agency practices described above.

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But the Right is also engaged in this, as Taibbi admitted.

The difference is that they're curating and selecting which kind of information to share.

Without transparency about what's actually in these files, we just have to take Musk's word for it, which is something everyone should be skeptical of.

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The Trump campaign engaged in it, and their "requests" were not honored. So while they may have had intent, it's not really equivalent.

"Without transparency about what's actually in these files, we just have to take Musk's word for it, which is something everyone should be skeptical of."

True. But the "left" and "liberals" used to be very skeptical of intelligence agencies, and now suddenly they'd rather have a bunch of intelligence spooks controlling what we see on Twitter (or any other platform) and hear rather than a single billionaire. As Elizabeth Warren says, "I don't think one man alone in dark room should be able to control what people get to be heard and what people don't." I agree with her, but I'll do her a multitude better: I don't think any number of people alone in a dark room should be able to control what people get to be heard and what people don't.

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Trump White House requests were honored. Obviously, as Taibbi points out in the next tweet, these decisions slanted in the direction of the people at Twitter's personal political biases, but let's not act like it was one-sided.

https://twitter.com/mtaibbi/status/1598828932395978752?s=20&t=9t9VDNDA84oG86EaQNta9A

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Sorry, missed that. It wasn't one sided. Of course, it would be helpful in this conversation to have the documents ourselves to see what the "requests" actually were.

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Would it? I don't know. The reason I find this all uninteresting is that Twitter was always a rigged game. Even if content moderation had been politically neutral, which it never was and won't ever be, it still would have been rigged in favor of the simplistic and incendiary. If the Twitter files disabuse people of the notion that their Twitter timeline was an accurate representation of the world, then good and I hope they stay disabused of it. The mistake was believing it ever was.

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Show me the evidence of the Trump Administration's requests not being honored.

Show me a member of the Biden Administration who demanded tweets be taken down and twitter then doing exactly that.

Without full transparency, this just ends up as culture war bullshit where each side believes what they believe regardless of evidence. But if you show us the full evidence, you make it undeniable.

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You clearly didn't read Taibbi's tweets. The request from the Biden White House is one of the early ones.

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Dec 13, 2022·edited Dec 13, 2022

You mean the one full of sex videos put online without Hunter Biden's consent, which are against the terms of service and qualify as revenge porn?

Those tweets that were asked to be taken down?

Also, Biden wasn't in the White House at that point. He wasn't even a government employee.

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I am all in favor of more transparency

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founding

Glad to know that you've accepted the prevailing leftist critique that we've been advocating since at least the 80s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent

We look forward to your back dues and reparations to the Iraqis.

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I couldn't agree more. I mean, I was literally a kid during Iraq (both of them), but yes, you're absolutely right. At the time of the second one I was just getting interested in politics, and the WMD thing sounded persuasive, and all the big important people were saying it, so I went along with it. Won't make that mistake again, and you're absolutely right to bring it up.

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Well, I was hoping for something to disagree on, Adblock! Dammit. It would be more comfortable for us to go back to arguing about Ye and his persecutors.

One positive thing about the population of right(er) people on this blog is that I see them arguing very traditional leftist critiques. This reinforces, to me, the correctness of the critiques but it's disconcerting that the remedy and the responsible parties are so different.

As an elder millennial, not cool that you made me feel old though. =)

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Oh, we'll find something else, I'm sure :)

The kind of RIghtist who finds his or her way here generally seems to be somewhat traditional in social affairs, interventionist economically, mostly anti-interventionist in foreign policy, something of a civil liberties absolutist, and utterly, completely unrepresentative of the Republican party, more's the pity. The number of GOP representatives who'd form a caucus of this kind is maybe in the low teens. It's nice, in a way, to feel oneself part of a small group of the enlightened... but I'd much rather the American Right just stop being such losers and loving the forever war and the corporate welfare and the muh free market and and and.

I'm probably only a couple of years younger than you, in fairness.

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Dec 13, 2022·edited Dec 13, 2022

RE: traditional in social affairs. As soon as you slobs (guys) start wearing ties and jackets again, except when doing physical labor, I'm very much willing to consider being more traditional.

Otherwise we just need to agree on solutions. =/

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The Maw, or the Machine, is another phrase for National Socialist types, Gestapo types. Trump is more like Hitler in style & bragging, but not policy. Obama-Clinton-Biden Democrats, with the lying FBI & CIA Deep State, are the US elite who are most like Nazi elites.

Demonization of MAGA Republicans today is exactly like the Nazi demonization of Jews in the early '30s.

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No, dude. It's not. Jesus. You've got a perfect example of demonization BY NAZIS along political values lines in the Communists and you managed to blow it.

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It's also dangerous because it makes you say 'well if I'm right coded, maybe the right aint so bad!' and this is not, in fact, true.

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It depends on how you define the "right" and the "left." At this moment, the self-described "right" is the "side" defending all the basic rights liberals used to defend. That's why Feddie DeBoer is "right-coded." In other words, at the moment, the "right" is not all that bad, if only because, being in the crosshairs of the Machine, it resists the Machine. Meanwhile the "left" does the dirty work of the Machine and acts as its enforcement arm.

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I have never seen the right do that. I've seen the right be really awful to people all the time, and vilify people, and I've seen them use the idea of liberalism as a weapon to beat the hypocrisy of the left, but I've never seen people on the political right in america really honestly defend civil rights, for example. I've never seen them resist the machine.

What I see is them disagree with their economic enemies. Rich people on the left are global trade types, internet guys, exporters of jobs, capturers of the professional managerial class. Rich people on the right are people who extract more local resources, and are harmed by competition from people overseas or from systems that aren't depend on their resources. both groups defend their economic interests but all the real ideology from people in the political mainstream is essentially cosplay. The left never really liked defending the KKK's right to speak, the right certainly doesn't think that they're obligated to defend the right of people they disagree with to evangelize for their causes, there's no one in this argument who you can really rely on to stand up for workers or blasphemers against whatever sacred cows we're building. The only difference is that at one point, people who aligned with the left did so, and maybe they might again. The closest you see with that on the right is libertarians, and those guys are psychos.

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Then you've never really looked at people on the "right." You have only a vision of the "right" that you've been spoonfed by the "left" in this eternal zero-sum game we've had imposed on us by those that don't want people across the spectrum and outside of it discovering that it's not really right and left. It's the Machine and the servants of the Machine and the rest of us, and, yes, there are are just as many people on the so-called left that are just as subservient to the Machine as on the so-called right.

I have my beef with conservatives, but overall, most of them really do think that if we were all just left alone, we'd work it out. I call that naive, but I would never call it evil.

And as for vilification, wow, you really are not paying attention if you think the "left" doesn't vilify people. Why do you suppose they describe a Marxist like Freddie DeBoer as "right-coded"? That's as close to a swear word as they can come. It's meant to immediately shut down any criticism that might be leveled at the "left" by someone who would otherwise be very much one of their own and they should be listening to.

And as for "defending the freedom to speak," you need to open your eyes. I don't care historically. In this moment the left is more concerned with squashing any speech they find inconvenient. It wasn't a Republican government that tried to set up a Ministry of Truth and kept asking to throw people off Twitter and Facebook for "wrongthink" regarding COVID, masks, lockdowns, vaccines, etc. And that's just once instance.

And it wasn't the "left" that got us out of the lockdowns, got kids back in school, and fought mandates for vaccines that don't work. It's not the "left" that's been fighting the overreach of the security state, you know the FBI, CIA, etc., that the "left' used to be so critical of, but now worship. It's not even the "left" that is showing any hesitance about imperialism overseas. Any voices asking why we're sending billions to Ukraine are coming from the "right," if we're talking the most established voices and politicians. (Yes, there are people on the left that are dissenting, but they are nowhere near the halls or microphones of power.)

The problem with people today is that they are too hung up on words. I don't give a shit whether it's right or left. I will vote and support the people who do the least amount of damage to the least number of people (I'd wish for something more, but I've found that is the most reasonable expectation, at least right now). And at the moment, that is the self-described right. It's sad and unexpected, but it's true.

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No, dude. You're living in a bubble so impervious that it is difficult to even communicate about this stuff. The idea that vaccines don't work, for example, has been pretty soundly demolished at this point. The idea that we've got kids in school because republicans revolted about it is self-serving nonsense; I am intimately familiar with the process by which schools in my area were reopened and can tell you that for a fact. "It wasn't a Republican government that tried to set up a Ministry of Truth" is, again, nonsense, and the kind of nonsense that makes me think you might be a child. Were you not politically aware in the Bush years? Do you not remember how John Ashcroft had to rebuke the people trying to establish universal surveillance from his hospital bed, and eventually they did it anyway but just lied about it? Do you not recall that for most of your life, unless you're under eight years old, it's been the Republicans who were endlessly positive about the CIA, FBI, etc? Don't try to tell me that these are democrat problems; the biggest problem with the democrats is how far they've drifted to the right.

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First of all, not a dude. Secondly, if the vaccines worked, why does everyone I know who had one gotten COVID? If you are minimally connected to reality, you find the idea that the COVID vaccines are effective laughable.

I live in Montana, a red state. We were back functioning long before any blue states were. If the red states had not led the way, the blue states would still be dragging their feet, and most of them are.

"it's been the Republicans who were endlessly positive about the CIA, FBI, etc?" Yes, and now the Democrats are the ones worshipping at the feet of the intelligence state. If memory serves, both Snowden and Assange were casualties of the *Obama* administration. So whatever the "left"/Democrats might have been, they are not right now.

Again, you're hung up on terms and a highly curated version of history. I care more about what *is*. And at the moment, the threat to the masses being able to voice their will comes from the self-described left, period, full stop. The right that is subservient to the Machine doesn't help, but it's the masses on the left and their so-called leaders that are justifying/rationalizing the squashing of dissent because of "democracy" or "racial justice" or "public health" or any of a hundred other snazzy slogans that simply mean "threats to our power." Those people are the danger _at this moment in time_.

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I first came in contact with the Maw during the Dan Rather document scandal. The internet was much newer then so when the document that was supposed to prove GWB was a deserter was proven to be false within hours of its release I thought how exciting this was. The internet would bring us more transparency than ever before. Ha! This was my introduction to the Maw. My understanding of human nature and how society works had to be adjusted. And still to this day I think that "False but Accurate" event was still the most clearly obnoxious one of all, but maybe because it was my first :)

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Regarding the Twitter files, there's been a lot of both 'it's not a big deal' and 'I'm not interested' from media types the last few days.

Let me just push back on why it's a big deal and people should be interested:

Beyond the political favoritism, Twitter appears to have had its thumb very heavily on debates related to COVID risk and policy. This contributed to preferred institutional health policy narratives becoming orthodoxy with scant debate. Schools were closed longer than they should have been, we ran around after college students giving them boosters when we should have focused on nursing home residents, and there was significant economic harm caused by prolonged lockdowns that had minimal benefit. Appropriate academics like Bhattacharya were shadow banned and charlatans like the nutritionist Feigl Ding were boosted. This was extremely toxic and I have no question, having watched in real time, that Twitter was consequential in elite opinion making.

The midwit censors who were making the decisions on what was right and what was wrong, who was *reliable* and who was *spreading misinformation* were terrible for the sense making required for the best policy to be devised and implemented.

So... fuck these people, both the censors at Twitter and the journos engaged in hand waving and obfuscation. Their behavior had true costs and things need to be better in the future.

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Twitter was clearly making editorial decisions, which means they're not just a neutral platform.

This is actually quite disastrous for their business model.

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Thank you for saying this. Throughout the pandemic Twitter has censored doctors who were advocating for Covid policies like keeping schools open and not masking small children, policies that were the norm in many European countries (notably Sweden, but also Switzerland, where I live). These countries not only had no major outbreaks that could be traced to schools, but also overall had much better results on all pandemic measures than the US did.

We are finally beginning to acknowledge that school closures, masking of young children, prolonged isolation, and a reliance on screens have been a catastrophe for kids’ educations, mental health, and social development. It would have been useful for Twitter not to have censored those doctors! US decision-makers should have had access to their expert advice!

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I don’t use Twitter and I think it’s a journalistic cesspool (though I hear certain corners of Twitter are nice; those having to do with birdwatching, for instance). I also don’t care about it as a platform and would be fine if it disappears tomorrow.

However, it’s a platform where journalists create their culture and presidents communicate with the masses. As such what they choose to censor matters a great deal. Yeah it’s a private company and private companies get to content moderate. But that’s the bigger discussion isn’t it? At what point does a private company become so influential that we need to create new rules?

Finally, let’s not forget that Elon Musk *tried to back out of buying it.* But the founders (or whoever ran it I don’t even know) forced it. It’s all about the fucking money.

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Removed (Banned)Dec 12, 2022
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No argument here.

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"Once a person finds himself on the wrong side of culture war debates enough times, they will be regarded as a reactionary no matter what their actual beliefs. They fall into the Maw."

Pretty much. Anyone who uses the terms "woke" or "cancel culture" or makes fun of sanctimonious pronoun usage gets immediately put into the Right-wing bucket, even if that person supports things like Medicare for All, gun control, and abortion rights.

This is why I love Substack and I love your newsletter. I'm a long time left-of-center guy who feels about as alienated from contemporary liberalism and its snarling hall monitors as he can possibly be. Thank you again for doing what you do.

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I am getting crap because I'm pushing back at my church against a well-meaning but clueless group of people who by the way are professors or administrative staff at a pretty good liberal arts college. They want to write a statement that affirms our welcoming of everybody. It reads like a terms and conditions statement, and the language is academic. My reaction is "so you welcome everybody who can read at a graduate school level, do I have that right?" It is pretty funny but it's also infuriating-they are aware of every "othering" except education and social class.

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>pushing back at my church against... a statement that affirms our welcoming of everybody

I feel like you might want to pick your battles here.

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Fortunately, left-wingers IRL aren't as bad, but there are definitely some things I don't say around my fellow liberals. Odd enough I don't agree with them on gun control.

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How does the Maw differ from the Overton Window?

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One seems rational, policies like taxes and such. The other much more irrational. That's the part of the Maw I find interesting. I definitely don't like it, but I also am confident I don't understand it, and therefore not sure it is all bad.

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Dec 12, 2022·edited Dec 12, 2022

These are my proposed Terms of Service for social media:

1. You do not have a right to offend.

2. You do not have a right to not be offended.

3. We will ban people (either permanently or temporarily) and remove postings because we can. We own the platform and we get to decide.

The process for issuing bans and removing a post is necessarily opaque and arbitrary. Some of the things that might lead us to ban you or remove one of your posts:

a. If you break the law, and we know it, you'll be banned.

Before anyone complains that someone else has broken the law, make sure you educate yourself before you report it. Remember, we are a big corporation with lots and lots of lawyers. These guys know the law, you probably don't.

b. Our advertisers don't like it.

Even though we own the site, they pay the bills. Usually, we have to make these decisions to keep the money rolling in.

c. The news coverage makes us look bad.

This typically results in 3.b., so there you go.

d. We have noticed it, and we don't like it.

This decision to remove a post or ban is oftentimes purely a personal, made by an individual that may or may not be the best person to make that decision. Too bad. Appeal if you think it's that important that your (probably) banal comment really needs to be put back up so that you get another 100 likes and 40 reposts.

It is very likely that we will be inconsistent in applying the rules above (except for 3.a.).

If a 'bad' post gets noticed by hundreds of thousands and is picked up by the media, we'll probably remove the post and may very likely issue a ban, at least temporarily. Removing posts and banning users typically generates a lot of outrage and traffic to our site, which is good for us.

If a post has 10 likes and one repost, you'll be fine. No one is going to care.

Sometimes we may just appear to be inconsistent, and we will be able to explain why we actually weren't.

Other times we will actually be inconsistent, but we don't need to explain that or justify it. We own the platform, we get to decide.

Finally, millions of you chuckleheads are using a free tool that allows you to share your most idiotic thoughts with millions of other chuckleheads. Don't be surprised that in the billions of words that cross this platform every day you find some that are offensive. For some people, that's the whole point. If you don't want to be offended, go away, we really don't care.

However, if you want to be offended just so you can share your outrage at someone else's post by reposting it here, thank you. This drives traffic, which drives advertising revenues, which makes us more money.

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While this is more honest than any existing ToS that I have seen, it's not as if the phone company can ban me because they don't like the conversations I am having over their wires.

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The only reason they can't do that is because of their common carrier status. Otherwise they could do so and in this, the most 2022 of years, I believe they would.

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Dec 12, 2022·edited Dec 12, 2022

For that matter, the electric company can't cut my power off because I opposed the latest rate hike or whatever.

This begs the question why a social media company that enjoys network effects (i.e..monopoly power) cannot be treated like a common carrier or a monopoly.

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For me, the biggest issue with the Twitter Files is transparency.

The fact that Taibbi has admitted that there were stipulations placed upon him in reporting this but won't tell us what those stipulations were is important. It feels very much like Weiss, Taibbi, and Musk have a specific narrative about the evidence to emerge and they're not willing to release everything in order to allow other people to independently come to the same conclusion.

If Musk and Taibbi want this to be the bombshell they claim it is, they need to release this trove in the same way the Podesta Emails were leaked.

Give us a searchable archive. Without that, we need to just trust Taibbi and Weiss' scattered screenshots of contextless communications.

I have no problem believing the Twitter Files may be a Big Deal, but we need transparency about what's actually in them. Taibbi and Weiss aren't necessarily the wrong people to present this except for the fact that they're not staffed up to deal with the bulk of information here. So they should either work with a staffed newsroom (ha!) or they should release a searchable archive.

Also, of interest to me, I also used the Maw metaphor when talking about the Culture War conversation that forever happens in public: https://radicaledward.substack.com/p/the-gaping-maw-of-the-culture-war

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Taibbi has recently specified the stipulations. Basically, it is that they must publish results on Twitter.

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Has he mentioned why they won't just do a full release?

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The funny thing about this theory is that if they did dump a whole archive, it would be The Conversation on twitter for months, just like the Podesta Emails were, or the Snowden Files or the Panama Papers, etc.

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I understand why he's doing it this way, but this is exactly why people feel justified ignoring it.

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This would only reinforce that this is not in the service of the public, but just some petty revenge from one of the wealthiest people who has ever lived

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Where has he said that he can't do a full release?

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He hasn't done a full release yet. If he's going to release it in six months, why not just release it now?

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But has he said that he's not going to do a full release? Yes or no?

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Has he said that he will release everything? Yes or no?

Is this an "I asked you first" situation?

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He has not. But I follow Taibbi's writing and Twitter feed more closely than I do Weiss' or Shellenberger's, so it's possible one of them has elaborated more on the schedule, stagger, and decisions on who gets to publish which angles of the investigation.

That said, newspapers uncontroversially publish large investigations like this, released in segments over weeks by multiple writers, all the time.

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Yes, but they release a lot more information and documentation.

We can go back and look at The Snowden releases, for example. There was tons of documentation.

Taibbi and Weiss put out a few screenshots of contextless communications over Slack and then do a lot of insinuating.

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Is anybody actually denying that what Taibbi and Weiss are saying is true? Did any of the principals come back and say "This is false" or even "This is taken out of context"?

Instead you get exactly what deBoer is writing about: a lot of apologists bloviating about how the material is factually true but unimportant.

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Then show us the documentation.

Give us the whole archive.

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founding

The Snowden releases were all filtered through journalists. Snowden was explicitly distancing himself from wikileaks-style leaks by doing this. Documentation, sure, but nothing close to complete.

Agree that twitter isn't the place to do this.

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In fact wasn't the whole point that the previous dump from Bradley Manning included the names of informants and collaborators, putting their lives in jeopardy? Greenwald specifically said he would be reviewing and redacting information for precisely this reason.

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No. But I'd bet there might be legal issues releasing all the information unedited. As far as stuff like this goes, providing the info to three separate reporters unvarnished is pretty good. I sure wish the FBI, CIA, BofA would do the same.

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If this is actually in service of the public, then the public deserves to know.

There were a lot of legal issues related to The Pentagon Papers, the Snowden Files, the Podesta Emails, etc.

If Musk is doing this for the First Amendment, then he should release all of it and stand behind the First Amendment. Though it is ironic that he's currently threatening to sue any twitter employees who leak anything to the press.

Almost like he's only in favor of the releases that put him in the best light and serve the narrative he has presented.

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At this point do you seriously believe that the government wasn't actively coordinating with Twitter?

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That's not what I said.

But this is a big claim that needs to be bulletproof. So far what they've released shows that twitter employees were making decisions about who to amplify and who to suppress. Taibbi said early on in his initial tweet thread that there was no evidence of government interference in the Hunter Biden laptop story, for example.

So if he has evidence on the government demanding information be suppressed and twitter doing exactly that, show us the documentation.

Give us a searchable archive so we can figure out if this is something done once, once a month, or constantly and consistently for the last ten years.

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Dec 12, 2022·edited Dec 12, 2022

Taibbi and Weiss were well-known professional journalists before Substack. MT's reporting on Goldman Sachs and the financial crisis was top-flight. But the incentives are different on this platform, which thrives on contrarianism, and the market realities appear to have affected their emphases.

In this case, the filtering of information into ill-fitted Twitter 'threads' does look like a skeezy application of clickbait tactics. And they're just aiding one form of power (rich guy) while claiming to speak truth to another.

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Which corporate full release of information are you comparing this too? I mean I get the complaints, this isn't perfect, but it sure beats nothing at all.

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Thank you. My thoughts exactly. Everyone is just so giddy to defend their preferred oligarchs, all the while thinking themselves rugged champions of the capital T Truth.

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Yes, because the Washington Post insisted that its reporters publish on The New York Times before anything came out regarding Nixon. I mean, it is only natural for a sponsor of an investigation to want to throw away the exact reason that they exist.

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Dec 12, 2022·edited Dec 12, 2022

I remember the legacy media running wild, lost their minds delivering daily missives of a loopy conspiracy theory too far-fetched for the John Birch Society, ca. 1961, telling themselves every day that "It's Mueller Time".

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Watch parties in DC bars, podcasts with names like 'Mueller She Wrote', a Russian around every corner.

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You say, "They fall into the Maw. I am in almost every matter of substance you can think of a generic leftist. It’s difficult to name a single left-right issue on which I don’t land comfortably on the left. But I’m right-coded by the Maw. This has been financially remunerative for me but makes little sense as a matter of basic political intelligibility."

There's a market, particularly post 2020, for people of left of center who seem capable of providing reporting (or really analysis) that isn't outcome driven. Matt Yglesias and Josh Barro very much fall into this category as well (although both are much more "center-left than you).

I feel like if I read you, or Yglesias or Barro, you are looking at the information available to you, and trying to form an opinion. Frankly, you are much further left than I am, so I often disagree with your conclusions, but at least it seems like you got there honestly. If you, for example, came across some good evidence that charter schools are better than public schools, I feel like you would try to grapple with that and incorporate it into your world view, and would not try to hide it.

OTOH, I have no faith that someone like Michael Hobbs would do the same. He very much seems to start with a thesis and then gather information solely for the purposes of supporting that thesis. Good facts are cherrypicked and highlighted, bad facts are spun or rejected out of hand.

This distinction clearly shows up on the Right too. I disagree with David French on a lot of things, but I think he provides a valuable perspective, because I think he is willing to grapple with, and discuss facts that are not necessarily in line with his world view. OTOH, listening to Sean Hannity is a complete waste of time, since he is just going to be spouting whatever noises support "his side" that day.

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A twitter link, really? Isn't time to "nuke it from orbit" by NOT using it?

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An alternative hypothesis is that David French is just as dogmatic as Hannity, but his dogma manifests itself in the kind of simpering pseudo-contrarianism in which the National Review specializes. In other words, he's also spouting what his side wants to hear. It's just that his side is so inconsequential and tiny it seems like a novelty.

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It's possible, this is a hard thing to judge, especially since your own biases get thrown into the mix. I'm sure that there are plenty of people would claim that Hobbs is a straight shooter, where as Freddie or Yglesias are just knee-jerk contrarians, but its the sense I get.

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If you think French is as dogmatic as Hannity, then I wonder: do you think everyone is dogmatic, it's just that they have different dogmas?

It seems to me, for example, that Hannity doesn't have any dogmas. He has people he supports, and then whatever they believe, he will believe. So, he's a dogmatic Republican. By contrast, French seems to have some norms he holds pretty tightly (civility?) and probably some beliefs, but he doesn't seem to be attached to particular people.

Maybe your view is that in order to be non-dogmatic, you can't hew tightly to hardly any belief, except perhaps, "follow the evidence where it leads"? (Although then in that case you're dogmatic about that ...)

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Wow... You "don't give a shit about the Twitter files." And you're also a writer concerned with media, technology, and politics (et al.)? I'm not sure I can square this circle unless you haven't actually read what is in them. For instance, the revelation of how political influence and expression repression was wielded by the Dems is, if nothing else, rather instructive going forward (e.g. see point 8 of Taibbi's first batch). It's like complex adaptive network theory come to life in politics in real time. If nothing else the files offer a fine grain close-up of just how porous and tendril-ridden the walls are between politics, media, and social media. And that can't be disregarded even if we hate the platform or avoid it altogether (I'm not on it myself). I understand that you had a hellacious experience on Twitter, and frankly I wonder if that may be clouding your assessment on this. I'd urge a re-consideration, possibly in a follow-up post as it seems emotion, or lack of careful/actual reading of the files in question, is getting the better of you here. Maybe I'm off. In any event, one last thing: the not giving a shit about the Twitter files is, interestingly enough, also what every blue check at the prestige media industrial complex is also saying. In other words, there are different varieties of not giving a shit about the files; not all are the same. In the case of prestige media journos, it's mostly an ass-covering con job; a see-no-evil obfuscation. In your case I know it's different. But the differences don't delineate themselves.

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Must has said the Trump Administration also requested things be taken down or suppressed. A question worth asking: why won't Taibbi, Weiss, and Musk be specific about what was requested by which party and when?

If they want this to be taken seriously and unignorable, they need to be a lot more transparent.

The fact that Musk is fine with releasing a curated sample of what he has but is, at the same time, threatening to sue any Twitter employee who leaks anything to the media should tell us everything we need to know about his commitment to Free Speech and the truth of twitter's editorial decisions.

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The FBI during the Trump Administration… in other words, the Obama Administration.

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This is just both-sidesism and it only works in the context of Democrats and Republicans. Most Americans are not political partisans and a fair number are independents. Why should they care if one side kills puppies while the other side kills kittens? When do Libertarian's and Green's get their shot at telling billion dollar companies which posts to cancel?

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How is it both-sidesism when what I'm asking for is a searchable archive so the public can see exactly what's in here?

If this is in the service of the public, the public deserves to know which government officials are demanding suppression and censorship. We also deserve to know what administrations are asking and how.

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"Must has said the Trump Administration also requested things be taken down or suppressed. A question worth asking: why won't Taibbi, Weiss, and Musk be specific about what was requested by which party and when?"

Why even mention Trump? If behavior is problematic then it's problematic regardless of who's doing it or whether or not they get a pass because in some insane partisan ideology the other side has also done it.

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I mention Trump because Taibbi did within his first few tweets included in the Twitter Files.

He said the Trump Administration made numerous requests to suppress content on Twitter. Then he presented a few emails relating to the Hunter Biden laptop, which, presumably, were not sent by anyone in the Trump Administration.

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Isn't the real issue that the government, regardless of administration, is asking a private company to take down posts? Who cares if it's Trump or if it's Biden? Do you think it's ever okay for the government to censor private media regardless of which party is in charge?

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"They need to be a lot more transparent." What corporate release of information are you comparing too to make this claim? I'm not here as a Musk supporter (although I do like Taibbi), but I've go to know from where your concept of transparency has evolved. To me this seems unprecedented.

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Use the Wikileaks model, which is how the Podesta emails were released. Give us a searchable archive.

If this information is truly in the public interest, give it to the public.

Otherwise, this seems a lot like Musk trying to deflect from the fact that his stock (personal and financial) has plummeted since buying Twitter.

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Dec 12, 2022·edited Dec 12, 2022

You're right that even amidst the frenzy of information thus far, many specific details are yet to be adequately revealed. That's a crucial point. To me what should happen is, once all this is looked over and analyzed they should publish a book form of it. Now I'm not comparing this to the 9/11 commission report or the Mueller report so please don't misunderstand me, but something like those reports -- which were made available to the public in lengthy book form -- is what I have in mind. To do the files justice, it's got to be pretty darn thick. No doubt it will be full of tedious details, but it will be full of important revelations too, amidst the tedium. To my mind, only a book (dispersed in physical and virtual editions) could provide the format truly necessary to encapsulate and organize the findings (and their ramifications) in the files. Even though it is exciting to see it rolled out on Twitter, this has to be something like the 1st draft -- or the 1st course of the meal, if you like -- of the final work; something like an author posting chapters on their substack before the actual book is formally published so that they can gauge public reaction and invite readers to offer critique of any blindspots. Honestly, though, my fear is that no such composite work -- i.e. a book -- will ever come to pass and the "Twitter Files" will remain a hodge-podge of endless tweets, sub stack posts (MT is already posting on this), and probably a few essays in legacy spots. That would limit its future usefulness and relevance greatly, but it would be par for the course these days. Again, that is my fear, not necessarily what I'd wager. But it's possible it could just remain a mess of threads and never be woven into a polished account because that is just how things seem to get done these days. With our intense hyper-emphasis on the "present" there is a disregard of the archive and thus the future. Here's hoping for an old fashioned rigorous report in the end.

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Just do what was done with the Podesta Emails - release a searchable archive. It's the Wikileaks model.

This model is why these stories become so huge: anyone can independently verify and prove what's in the trove.

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The perception of fairness matters. When people lose faith in the institutions the result is a climate of "Every man for himself". Twitter is relevant here because it's symptomatic of a wider problem.

Imagine if the KKK had mobilized to tear down some Martin Luther King statues. The press would have freaked out. But both the media and locals governments largely cheered on leftist rioters who destroyed monuments to historical figures that they viewed as problematic. Bias is tremendously corrosive to the perception that an institution can be trusted to do the right thing. Is it any wonder that Trump's partisans are pushing conspiracy theories about election fraud? Is that really any crazier than the cops standing by and doing nothing while protesters pull down statues and riot?

The ultimate idiocy is that the left believed that they could burn down the norms that make this country governable just to get rid of Trump and that everything would quickly revert to the status quo once he was gone. The problem is that it is much easier to destroy than create or repair, the actions taken to attack Trump have turned out to be tremendously destructive and the country appears to be entering an era of disunity--a "Great Unraveling" as others have put it. Again, Twitter is a great example. What's the whole purpose of social media? Isn't it to let people talk to each other? But Twitter broke itself in that sense because it became an echo chamber abandoned by the right. Why would you even bother if the people running the platform can be relied on to censor your point of view?

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100%. I remember talking to my brother in 2016 when it came out that the DNC was giving Hillary prep advice for the debates. "It doesn't really affect how the Bernie fans will vote in the general, " we decided, "99% of them will bite their tongues and vote for Hillary. The real damage is to the Democrat's image on the eyes of independents and centrist Republicans, who now have all their stereotypes of Democratic corruption confirmed." A little bit of bias is human nature, but once it becomes too obvious, any institutional trust goes out the window.

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What the DNC should have done is pass a rule that a candidate for their nomination has to have been registered as a Democrat for at least 4 years.

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This bothers and worries the shit out of me. In your experience - or anyone else here who moves in these circles - what do journalists, in private, think about this? Is there any chance of a change in approach, where me might actually get real reporting again?

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It’s a good question. I do think it’s already swinging back; it’s a historical pendulum. For example CNN is firing and hiring and moving back to a more moderate POV. Money talks--these corporations are losing bread.

Michael Mohr

‘Sincere American Writing’

https://michaelmohr.substack.com/

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Also I would note that the pendulum is swinging back. The guy behind the Daily Stormer has had his Twitter account restored after 10 years.

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Plus is it really necessary to point out that the real journalism is completely incompatible with narrative? Every ordinary American who hears about Kanye West and Nick Fuentes these days is asking themselves one obvious question: what's a white supremacist doing hanging out with a black guy? Nobody that works in media hasn't looked at this and thought to themselves "Huh?"

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It might be nice then if somebody in the media tool note of that. Or maybe there's an explanation for that: Bari Weiss pointed out that there was almost no media coverage of the black Hebrewite march outside of the Barclay's Center in the aftermath of the Kyrie Iriving scandal.

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This is just a straw man. What articles specifically and where? How many results are you getting on your Google search?

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I got the NY Post and the Jerusalem Post as results. Gee, what overwhelming coverage.

And you get pretty petty when you lose...

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