Twitter secretly boosted US psyops in the Middle East, according to a report | Social Media News

Twitter helped promote US military activities in the Middle East, according to an investigation based on company files.

Twitter worked with the Pentagon to amplify propaganda about US military activities in the Middle East, allowing fake accounts to push pro-US narratives despite promising to shut down covert state influence campaigns, according to research based on the Twitter internal files.

Twitter secretly created a special “whitelist” that exempts accounts run by US Central Command (CENTCOM) from spam and abuse flags, giving them greater visibility on the platform, according to research by Lee Fang , a reporter for The Intercept.

Twitter quietly introduced the feature in 2017 after US military officials asked the company to improve the visibility of 52 Arabic-language accounts used to “amplify certain messages,” according to the investigation, which was published on Twitter and in The Intercept.

CENTCOM’s “priority accounts” promoted information in support of US military narratives, including criticism of Iran, support for the US-Saudi-backed war in Yemen, and claims about the superior precision of drone strikes. American crews, according to Fang.

CENTCOM later hid its ownership of the accounts, Fang said, in some cases using fake profile pictures and biographies to give the impression they were run by civilians in the Middle East.

While Twitter has said it does not allow deceptive state-backed influencer operations, the social media company was aware of CENTCOM’s covert activity and tolerated the accounts’ presence on the platform until at least May 2022, Fang said. .

“A Twitter official who spoke to me said he feels cheated by the covert change. Still, many emails from throughout 2020 show that high-level executives at Twitter were well aware of the Defense Department’s actions. [Department of Defence] vast network of fake accounts and covert propaganda and did not suspend the accounts,” Fang said on Twitter on Tuesday.

“For example, Twitter lawyer Jim Baker reflected in a July 2020 email, about an upcoming Defense Department meeting, that the Pentagon used ‘poor tradecraft’ when setting up its network and was looking at strategies to not expose the accounts. that they are ‘linked to each other’. another or to the DoD or the USG.’”

Baker, a former deputy general counsel at Twitter, did not immediately respond to a Twitter request for comment.

The revelations are the latest in a series of stories based on the so-called “Twitter files,” internal company documents that Elon Musk, who bought Twitter in October, shared with various journalists in unconventional posts.

Musk, one of the world’s richest men, has portrayed the release of the documents as an effort to increase transparency about the operations of the social media platform under the previous administration, whom he accused of censoring and favoring views and liberal personalities.

Previous iterations of the Twitter archives have documented “blacklisting” that limited the reach of conservative figures, as well as the internal deliberations that led to the suspension of former US President Donald Trump from the platform and the suppression of the Twitter account. story about the emails on Hunter Biden. laptop.

The posting of Twitter’s internal files has generated a mixed, often polarizing reaction.

While conservatives have seized the files as evidence of Twitter’s liberal bias and hostility to free speech, many liberal figures have portrayed the statements as showing good faith efforts by employees to grapple with tough decisions. of moderation.

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