Report: Twitter Secretly Boosted US Covert Propaganda Campaign

After reviewing internal documents at Twitter, journalist Lee Fang released the eighth installation of the "Twitter Files" on Tuesday, alleging that the company had been complicit in psychological operations undertaken by the Pentagon targeting Middle Eastern audiences.

Report: Twitter Secretly Boosted US Covert Propaganda Campaign
Image credit: Al Jazeera

Facts

  • After reviewing internal documents at Twitter, journalist Lee Fang released the eighth installation of the "Twitter Files" on Tuesday, alleging that the company had been complicit in psychological operations undertaken by the Pentagon targeting Middle Eastern audiences.
  • The Pentagon, which had deployed a number of affiliated accounts to influence the opinion in Arabic-speaking countries, asked Twitter to "whitelist" these accounts in 2017 and then removed any explicit connection to the US government.
  • The accounts dealt with a variety of topics, mainly related to US adversaries in the Middle East, including anti-Iran messaging, support for US-backed armed groups in Syria, and claims that US drone strikes in Yemen did not kill civilians.
  • This report is in stark contrast with Twitter spokesperson Nick Pickles's testimony before Congress in 2020, in which he stressed that the platform’s efforts against government influence operations were a "top priority."
  • The US government legally affirmed clandestine psychological operations, including running fake social media accounts for propaganda, in Section 1631 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act —purportedly to counter disinformation campaigns by Russia, China, and other foreign actors.
  • Following Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter in October, internal documents at the company have been shared with several journalists at non-mainstream publications in a series dubbed the "Twitter Files."

Sources: Intercept, FOX News, Daily Mail, TRT World, New York Post, and Al Jazeera.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by The Intercept. These revelations are a damning indictment of how the US government uses social media to advance its geopolitical interests across the globe. In addition to that, Twitter was complicit in the government's operations, which is a clear violation of both its policies and public trust. Twitter cannot and should not be used to advance the interests of the US government.
  • Narrative B, as provided by New York Magazine. Though aspects of the Twitter Files have been productive in terms of transparency, Elon Musk is guilty of the same things he has accused companies and journalists of. The Twitter Files are not meant to advance the interests of the public, but the interests of the GOP and right-wing actors — caveat emptor.

Predictions