Schiff’s Office Frequently Sought Removal, ‘Deamplification’ of Content on Twitter: Twitter Files
Schiff’s Office Frequently Sought Removal, ‘Deamplification’ of Content on Twitter: Twitter Files

By Samantha Flom

Staff members of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) “wrote to Twitter quite often” to seek the suppression and removal of content they disagreed with, according to journalist and “Twitter Files” author Matt Taibbi.

In a Twitter thread posted Jan. 13, Taibbi supplemented previous revelations regarding the former House Intelligence Committee chair’s privileged relationship with Twitter with a few more examples of questionable conduct.

One instance Taibbi cited was an April 2020 email exchange in which Schiff’s staff members contacted Twitter to seek the removal of an unflattering “deepfake” photo—an image that has been digitally manipulated—of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden that had been shared by President Donald Trump.

According to the emails, the Democratic National Committee also sought the image’s removal, but Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, ultimately decided that “any reasonable observer” could discern that the image was fake and “created with humorous intent.”

Rather than accept that decision, Schiff staffer Jeff Lowenstein pushed back, claiming that there was “a slippery slope concern here” and that “the next iteration of this could easily be more malicious and less obvious.”

Ultimately, however, Twitter stood firm in its denial.

The headquarters for the social media company Twitter in San Francisco, on Nov. 11, 2022. (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Additional communications show that Twitter employees also refused requests for the removal of “any and all content about Mr. [Sean] Misko and other Committee staff from its service—to include quotes, retweets, and reactions to that content,” as well as the total “suppress[ion of] any and all search results about Mr. Misko and other Committee staff.”

Misko served as a staff member for the House Intelligence Committee under Schiff from July 2019 until September 2022.

But while Twitter rejected those requests, internal documents show that there were plenty of others the platform acted on, often through the “deamplification” of disfavored accounts, like those engaged in “QAnon-related activity.”

According to Taibbi, Schiff’s staffers often complained about such activity when it wasn’t present, and although they praised Twitter’s methods of limiting certain users’ reach, they did raise one concern—that those methods could hinder law enforcement action against users.

“We are curious whether any deamplification measures implemented by Twitter’s enforcement team – which we appreciate greatly – could inadvertently impede the ability of law enforcement to search Twitter for potential threats about Misko and other HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] staff,” one staffer inquired in an email.

Previous Disclosures

The new disclosures from Twitter’s internal files come on the heels of last week’s report that Schiff’s office also pressured Twitter to suspend the account of investigative journalist Paul Sperry, among many others.

The justification Schiff’s office provided was that Sperry had “repeatedly promoted false QAnon conspiracies and harassed [redacted].”

Sperry’s Twitter account was ultimately suspended three months later, in February 2021. It was restored after Elon Musk bought the social media platform last year.

Sperry, reacting to the newly revealed information on Twitter, said: “Explains why Twitter could never give me a reason for my suspension. It was Schiff!”

Sperry, who charged that Schiff used his power to “muscle Twitter into banning a journalist,” has since announced that he is “exploring all legal options, including suing” Schiff for defamation.

Schiff’s name also came up in the 14th Twitter Files installment on Jan. 12, which showed that he and other prominent Democrats knowingly pushed a false narrative in 2018 that “Russian bots” were promoting a report released by then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that detailed efforts to spy on the Trump campaign.

“At a crucial moment in a years-long furor,” Taibbi wrote on Jan. 12, “Democrats denounced a report about flaws in the Trump-Russia investigation, saying it was boosted by Russian ‘bots’ and ‘trolls.’”

“Twitter officials were aghast, finding no evidence of Russian influence,” he added, sharing a screenshot of a letter Twitter sent to Schiff and Rep. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that stated as much.

The Epoch Times has contacted Schiff’s office for comment.

House to Investigate

The explosive information Twitter has released through such disclosures in the last couple of months has created a firestorm in Washington as evidence that government entities engaged in the illegal censorship of Americans’ speech continues to mount.

Republicans have pledged to investigate the allegations now that they possess control of the House of Representatives, creating a new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to do so.

Democrats, however, have criticized the new panel’s broad authority to review ongoing criminal investigations.

“This is a violation of separation of powers, and it’s also very dangerous,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) slammed the subcommittee as “nothing more than a deranged ploy by the MAGA extremists who have hijacked the party and want to use taxpayer money to push their far-right conspiracy nonsense.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), however, advocated for the panel on the House floor Tuesday, noting, “This is about the First Amendment.”

“I would hope we could get bipartisan agreement on protecting the First Amendment,” he continued. “The five rights we enjoy as Americans under the First Amendment: Your right to practice your faith, assemble, right to petition the government, freedom of press, freedom of speech. Every single one’s been attacked in the last two years.”

And the most important of those rights, the congressman added, is “your right to talk, because if you can’t talk, you can’t practice your faith. You can’t share your faith. You can’t petition your government. The right to speak is the most important, and that’s what they [the federal government agencies] are going after.”

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