Tweet Files Part 8 Shows the Twitter-Pentagon Cooperation on Middle East Psychological Operation Campaigns

“Twitter Files,” Part 8, was published this week by reporter Lee Fang and exposed the help that Twitter provided to Pentagon psyops (psychological operations).

Fang stated that despite Twitter's promises to stop state-run covert propaganda websites, the platform’s own documents reveal that Twitter “directly assisted the U.S. military's influence operations.”

Despite its official declarations, the platform “gave approval & special protection to the U.S. military's online psychological influence ops,” according to Fang. “Despite knowledge that Pentagon propaganda accounts used covert identities, Twitter did not suspend many for around 2 years or more. Some remain active.” 

A U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) official sent Twitter a list of 52 Arab-language accounts “we use to amplify certain messages.” Fang revealed that six of the accounts received priority service, with one account being verified, and the others having “whitelist” abilities (meaning they were not subject to abuse or spam tags and were more likely to trend and be noticeable). These accounts primarily focused on the Middle East and military issues. One hundred and fifty-seven similar accounts were added later.

There were also Twitter discussions about how the platform might retroactively cover what had been going on. According to Fang, “Stacia Cardille, another Twitter attorney, replied that the Pentagon wanted a SCIF & may want to retroactively classify its social media activities ‘to obfuscate their activity in this space, and that this may represent an overclassification to avoid embarrassment.’”

A few accounts were discovered by a Stanford Internet Observatory report in August 2022. They were then taken off the Internet. But Twitter's involvement was not revealed until later.

These specific revelations may appear to be a glimpse into a variety of psyops involving the Middle East, and they again raise the issue of the closeness between Twitter and the US government, suggesting the two were often operating in tandem. They also raise the question of whether the relationship extended far beyond the Middle East. 

When you open your door, it's possible to let all sorts of things in. After all that we've seen in the Twitter data, this latest revelation is not surprising.

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