Uncovered: FBI’s Pressure on Twitter to Muzzle Users Linked to Ukraine, Targeting US and Canadian Journalists
The “Twitter Files” have revealed a disturbing development that the FBI was involved in foreign-backed censorship of Twitter users, including American and Canadian journalists, in early 2022. This latest scandal highlights how the FBI can be weaponized to aid in censoring information or spreading misinformation.
Aaron Mate wrote on Substack:
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation has aided a Ukrainian intelligence effort to censor social media users and obtain their personal information, leaked emails reveal.
In March 2022, an FBI Special Agent sent Twitter a list of accounts on behalf of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ukraine’s main intelligence agency. The accounts, the FBI wrote, “are suspected by the SBU in spreading fear and disinformation.” In an attached memo, the SBU asked Twitter to remove the accounts and hand over their user data.
The Ukrainian government’s FBI-enabled targets extend to members of the media. The SBU list that the FBI provided to Twitter included my name and Twitter profile. In its response to the FBI, Twitter agreed to review the accounts for ‘inauthenticity’ but raised concerns about the inclusion of me and other ‘American and Canadian journalists’.”
FBI Special Agent Aleksandr Kobzanets, the Assistant Legal Attaché at the US Embassy in Kyiv, sent an email to two Twitter executives with an attached document drafted by Ukraine’s SBU. The document listed 163 accounts that the FBI requested to be blocked on Twitter to prevent Russian aggression on the information front. The email also requested that Twitter share the phone number, date of birth, and email address provided during registration with both the FBI and SBU.
“To stop Russian aggression on the information front, we kindly ask you to take urgent measures to block these Twitter accounts and provide us with user data specified during registration.”
Of all the #TwitterFiles stories, this one is perhaps the most damning about the FBI, showing that it is willing to help a foreign government try to suppress a prominent Western journalist. It's outrageous and provides further evidence the FBI is out of control. https://t.co/iNwgJxYe2O
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 7, 2023
Aaron Mate also wrote:
“News of the FBI’s work with Ukrainian intelligence to censor Twitter users also follows reporting from journalist Lee Fang that the FBI has pressured Facebook to remove accounts and posts deemed by the SBU to be Russian ‘disinformation’. According to Fang, a senior Ukrainian official in regular contact with the FBI defined ‘disinformation’ in such broad terms that it could mean viewpoints that ‘simply contradict the Ukrainian government’s narrative’.”
The FBI declined to answer my questions about its aid to Ukrainian intelligence censorship efforts.
“While we appreciate your inquiry, as a matter of practice we do not confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on specific interactions nor confirm the veracity of correspondence,” FBI…
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 7, 2023