Newly released messages reveal that a top Democratic lawmaker pressured Twitter to ban a journalist.
In 2020, the office of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time, pressured Twitter in 2020 to ban investigative journalist Paul Sperry, internal messages show.
Schiff wanted “many accounts” allegedly linked to QAnon suspended, including Sperry’s, one message showed, with his office claiming Sperry and other accounts had “repeatedly promoted false QAnon conspiracies and harassed [redacted].”
QAnon is a movement of people promoting conspiracy theories related to government officials and other elite figures. Several of these theories have turned out to be at least partially true.
Schiff’s office sought the removal of “any and all content” about staff on the House Intelligence Committee, including posts, shared content and reactions to that content.
The message was part of an internal Twitter email, made public by journalist Matt Taibbi as a part of the ongoing Twitter Files investigation, which also showed a Twitter official saying, “this isn’t feasible/we don’t do this” to the latter request.
However, in regard to the request to ban Sperry and the other accounts, the official said, “we’ll review these accounts again but I believe [redacted] mentioned only one actually qualified for suspension.”
Sperry said on Twitter that Schiff “used his power as head of House Intel to muscle Twitter into banning a journalist,” suggesting his actions stemmed from his reporting on Schiff’s connection to the whistleblower who triggered the impeachment process against former President Donald Trump.
Schiff had claimed he did not have “direct contact” with the whistleblower, but his spokesman later admitted that the person communicated with the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff later said he regretted his choice of words.
In February 2021, Sperry was banned by Twitter, approximately three months after the newly revealed message was sent. Sperry was told that his account violated Twitter’s rules, but was given no further explanation.
“Explains why Twitter could never give me a reason for my suspension. It was Schiff!” Sperry said this week, who recently had his account restored following Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
Musk himself responded to the revelation, pressing the California Democrat by asking, “Hey @RepAdamSchiff, what’s this?”
In another set of messages, the Senate Intelligence Committee was shown to be in touch with Twitter on the removal of accounts.
The FBI, which had colluded with Twitter multiple times to censor information about COVID-19 and the New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden’s laptop, said in a recent statement that the messages between it and Twitter “show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries.”
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