The latest Twitter Files uncovered the FBI requesting the social media company to censor accounts accused of spreading misinromation about the Ukraine-Russia war and collect their personal information.
A special agent from the FBI reached out to Twitter with a list of accounts according to The Grayzone News host Aaron Maté, who reported on the latest Twitter Files.
“The FBI is helping Ukraine censor Twitter users, including journalists,” Maté reported. “The FBI aided a Ukrainian intelligence effort to ban Twitter users and collect their data. Twitter declined to censor journalists targeted by Ukraine.”
Maté was included on the list of accounts.
FBI Special Agent Aleksandr Kobzanets, the assistant legal attaché at the U. S. Embassy in Kiev, reportedly contacted a pair of Twitter executives in March 2022 on behalf of Ukraine’s intelligence agency, the SBU.
The agent reportedly sent a list of 163 Twitter accounts, stating that “These accounts are suspected by the SBU in spreading fear and disinformation.”
Along with the list of accounts, the agent also reportedly forwarded a request from Ukraine’s SBU, which said, “we kindly ask you to take urgent measures to block these Twitter accounts and provide us with user data specified during registration.”
However, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Head of Trust and Safety at the time responded to the FBI about how they would check the authenticity of some of the accounts listed, but he shared concern with censoring American and Canadian journalists.
“In an initial look, they do appear to be a mix of individual accounts (that may or may not be authentic), some official Russian accounts (including state media accounts which are already labeled under our policies), and even a few accounts of American and Canadian journalists (e.g. Aaron Mate),” Roth wrote.
“Our reviews are going to focus first and foremost on identifying any potential inauthenticity,” he continued. “In general, though, authentic news outlets and reporters who cover the conflict with a pro-Russian stance are unlikely to be found in violation of our rules absent other context that might establish some kind of convert/deceptive association between them and a government.”
Maté suggested this is not the first time the FBI has been accused of requesting a major tech platform censor users on its behalf…. (Read more)