Elon Musk is promoting the release of internal Twitter documents that repeat Hunter Biden’s story on the platform

    Twitter CEO Elon Musk promoted a series of tweets on Friday revealing internal documents about how the company handled a news article about Hunter Biden in 2020, controversially blocking people from tweeting and direct messages about it.

    In a lengthy tweet thread, writer Matt Taibbi said he had received “thousands of internal documents” from sources on Twitter — and Musk himself tweeted “Here we go!! 🍿🍿” when the thread began. NBC News has not seen or verified.

    The thread came after Musk teased that the inner workings of Twitter’s past would be revealed. On Monday, he said the “Twitter files on suppression of free speech” would be published soon, adding that the public has a right to know about past discussions there.

    On Friday early evening, the wire revealed mostly deliberations both internally and externally – including with Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. – about Twitter’s move to restrict access to the article. Khanna appeared to question Twitter’s reasoning for blocking the story.

    Musk tweeted in response to one of Taibbi’s tweets: “Ro Khanna is awesome”

    Responding to a request for comment, Khanna said he believes the Constitution and the First Amendment are “sacred.”

    “As the congresswoman representing Silicon Valley, I felt that Twitter’s actions violated First Amendment principles, so I raised those concerns,” Khanna said in a statement. “Our democracy can only thrive if we open up to a marketplace of ideas and engage with people we disagree with.”

    Taibbi’s characterization of the documents amounted to sharp criticism of how Twitter’s previous management — before Musk bought it for $44 billion in October — handled the situation and ran the company, claiming without clear evidence that it was biased towards the Democrats.

    Many of the details released Friday night were already public, including the steps the company took around the October 2020 New York Post article that claimed it had a “smoking email” between Hunter Biden and a Ukrainian businessman. Still, the revelations are almost guaranteed to spark debate over social media censorship and online freedom of expression.

    Shortly after Taibbi’s last post in Friday night’s thread, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California tweeted“Within 32 days, the new House Republican majority will get answers for the American people and the accountability they deserve.”

    The emails shared by Taibbi show a long-running internal debate among Twitter employees — including at least two former staffers of Republican senators — about how best to handle the New York Post story and how to deal with that treatment with it. public and with legislators.

    Taibbi also included screenshots of request emails from unidentified people in the Biden administration asking contacts on Twitter to take action on certain tweets. Versions of those tweets seen by NBC News on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which archives web pages, show that many, if not all, of the tweets in question violated Twitter rules. At least three of those tweets involved photos of Hunter Biden.

    A longtime magazine journalist turned newsletter writer, Taibbi is known for his provocative style and colorful turns of phrase. In 2009, he coined the term “giant vampire squid” to describe investment bank Goldman Sachs. Musk and Taibbi have had a friendly relationship on Twitter. In May, Musk shared an edition of Taibbi’s newsletter criticizing California regulators.

    The controversy surrounding Twitter and Hunter Biden dates back to October 2020, weeks before the presidential election between Joe Biden and then-President Donald Trump. The October 14, 2020 New York Post article quoted what appeared to be an email to the younger Biden, thanking him for introducing the businessman to his father, who was vice president at the time.

    The email was part of a cache of documents provided to the New York Post by Trump’s personal attorney at the time, Rudy Giuliani, who said he obtained the files from a laptop delivered to a Delaware computer store. . At the time, Giuliani refused to share a copy of the hard drive with NBC News.

    Twitter and Facebook have both moved to limit the spread of the article. Twitter blocked people from tweeting or private messaging the link to the New York Post story — a highly unusual move by the social media app. Facebook said it was “reducing” distribution of the article while third-party fact-checkers reviewed it.

    Twitter has one policy against the proliferation of ‘hacked material’, a product of how political agents stolen and then leaked The Democrats’ emails during the 2016 election. And it cited those policies as one of the reasons it smothered the article.

    Musk was previously critical of Twitter’s actions during the 2020 election. In April this year he said it was “Obviously incredibly inappropriate” for Twitter to freeze the New York Post’s account.

    Taibbi wrote that he has seen no evidence that the government was involved in Twitter’s attempt to block the New York Post story.

    The FBI is possible role in technology companies’ decisions to limit the reach of the New York Post article came to light in August, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with podcaster Joe Rogan that the FBI did not specifically warn about the laptop , but that the pattern” of what the agency had warned about. The FBI said in response that it gives companies “foreign threat indicators” but cannot ask companies to take action.

    Shortly after the New York Post published the article, Twitter cited concerns about hacked material as the reason for blocking the story.

    “We don’t want to encourage hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as a distribution for potentially illegally obtained material,” Twitter said. said October 14, 2020, in an explanation of his movements.

    But by the end of the day on Oct. 14, the day the article was published in the New York Post, Twitter was already expressing some concern about how the company was handling the situation. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO at the time, said it was “unacceptable” to block links to the article without context as to why.

    Zuckerberg separately defended his company’s actions, saying they were extra vigilant about election interference after Russian agents used Facebook in 2016 to try to influence that year’s presidential election. Zuckerberg cited FBI warnings about election-related threats, but none about Hunter Biden in particular.

    Republican lawmakers have since cited technology companies’ handling of the story as evidence of perceived party bias — though the opposite is often true.

    Earlier this year, a representative for Giuliani gave NBC News a copy of the laptop’s hard drive, and an NBC News analysis of the drive, an iCloud account, and documents from two Senate committees showed that Hunter Biden and company made about $11 million through his work as a lawyer and board member of a Ukrainian company accused of bribery and his work with a Chinese businessman also accused of fraud.

    Hunter Biden has said federal prosecutors in Delaware are investigating his taxes. He has not been charged. He has denied any allegation.

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