New Twitter Files Show Twitter Knew Truth About Russia-Gate Hoax

November 6th, 2023 4:04 PM

A new Twitter Files report shows that Twitter executives knew the Russia-gate hoax was bunk and accuses one of the organizations pedaling the Russian election interference narrative of meddling in the Alabama elections. 

Independent journalist Matt Taibbi created an X thread of an article written by journalist Susan Schmidt. The thread unpacked the dubious New Knowledge NGO and its behind-the-scenes work to get Twitter to censor accounts allegedly connected to a Russian government organization that some claim interfered in the 2016 election. Twitter employees and executives, however, were immediately skeptical of pervasive Russian bots. And, according to Taibbi and Schmidt, all the while, New Knowledge was interfering in American elections under the auspices of “Russian bots.”

Taibbi and Schmidt explained that the pressure on Twitter to censor allegedly Russian accounts can be traced back to 2018 when the Senate Intelligence Committee asked New Knowledge to investigate the allegations of foreign interference. The resulting report generated false news stories as then-Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) egged on the narrative. He called the report a “bombshell.”

But Twitter employees saw things differently, according to The Twitter Files. 

“Executives were skeptical about the level of Russian social media activity,” Schmidt wrote referencing previous Twitter Files. “Senior employees knew a flawed research method, created by outside analysts commissioned by the Senate, was generating hundreds of false news stories.”

Indeed, when former Trust and Safety Chief Yoel Roth examined five accounts flagged by the New Knowledge report, he was not at all concerned about the potential “social media activity.” “Nothing to see here,” Roth said in an email addressed to coworkers after reviewing a sample of the purported Russian bot accounts, according to screenshots posted by Taibbi. “Two of the inactive accounts may be spam, but nothing insidious,” he remarked, before adding that  a third account “is an American and not at all suspicious.” The internal correspondence revealed that Roth did not want to delete even the spam accounts so as not to “throw fire on the NK [New Knowledge] report by making anyone think they’re correct.”

But while New Knowledge was hell-bent on preventing so-called Russian election interference, the organization was reportedly meddling in a Senate race in Alabama through “Project Bermingham” in 2017: “Just days after New Knowledge’s high-profile report was being lauded by Senator Warner, The New York Times exposed the scandal, which had targeted a Republican Senate candidate in Alabama,” Schmidt wrote in her article accompanying The Twitter Files. “In what the firm itself referred to as a ‘false flag’ operation, it had created thousands of fake Russian bots to follow candidate Roy Moore in a hard-fought special election. News stories said it appeared the Kremlin favored Moore.” [Emphasis added.]

Schmidt further added that “New Knowledge also ran a phony Facebook page boosting a write-in Republican candidate to draw votes from Moore, and another in which Moore purportedly favored banning alcohol in Alabama. Democrat Doug Jones ended up defeating Moore by a narrow margin.”

How did this come about? Schmidt and Taibbi explained that “[t]he Alabama projects were engineered by former Obama administration official Mikey Dickerson, and funded by billionaire Reid Hoffman, who subsequently apologized.” 

According to Schmidt, “Thus far, there has been no action against the Project Birmingham participants” who allegedly orchestrated an election interference operation through misinformation. Meanwhile, Douglass Mackey faced jail time for an election meme he created during the 2016 election encouraging people to vote by text.

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