The FBI Raised Alarms About Twitter Accounts of American Journalists Over Alleged Ukraine War Disinformation
According to leaked emails, the FBI assisted a Ukrainian intelligence agency to censor Twitter users. Some of the people that were singled out were American and Canadian journalists, raising First Amendment concerns.
Prior reports have already touched on how the FBI was approached to support online censorship with regards to the Ukraine war.
Back In March 2022, an FBI special agent sent Twitter a list of accounts that “are suspected by the SBU [Ukraine’s intelligence agency] in spreading fear and disinformation.” The email featured a memo from the SBU calling on Twitter to ban the accounts and turn over their user data, per a Twitter Files report by Aaron Maté.
Special Agent Aleksandr Kobzanets sent the email to Twitter. He is the assistant legal attaché at the American embassy in Ukraine.
“Thank you very much for your time to discuss the assistance to Ukraine,” Kobzanets said in the email. “I am including a list of accounts I received over a couple of weeks from the Security Service of Ukraine.
“These accounts are suspected by the SBU in spreading fear and disinformation. For your review and consideration.”
The SBU noted that the accounts have been “used to disseminate disinformation and fake news to inaccurately reflect events in Ukraine, justify war crimes of the Russian authorities on the territory of the Ukrainian state in violation of international law.”
The agency continued by highlighting that “to stop Russian aggression on the information front,” Twitter should “take urgent measures to block” the accounts “and provide us with user data specified during registration.”
Twitter remarked that it would look at the accounts’ “inauthenticity” but too issue with the inclusion of American and Canadian journalists in the list. The list featured 163 accounts.
Then-Twitter’s head of Trust and Safety, Yoel Roth, said the accounts would be looked at but the priority was to identify potential inauthenticity due to how the list featured American and Canadian journalists.
Roth stated that authentic accounts would be suspended if Twitter discovered evidence that they were connected to foreign governments. He added by noting that 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 covert/deceptive association between them and a government.”
“Any additional information or context in those areas is of course welcome and appreciated,” Roth continued.
Kobzanets responded by noting that it was unlikely for additional information to be provided.
As far as bans were concerned, 34 of the 163 accounts were prohibited, 20 were deactivated while the rest have remained active.
It’s abundantly clear that Big Tech is in league with the Deep State, especially its national security elements. Thankfully, Twitter is under more rational ownership so it will not be as keen on facilitating the dissemination of pro-Ukrainian propaganda and escalating tensions with great powers like Russia.
However, much more has to be done to prevent a great power conflict with a nuclear power. One of the first things that has to be done is to fully depoliticize Big Tech. Only nationalists in power can facilitate that task.