Notes on the Twitter Files (4)

At her Free Press site Bari Weiss has posted background on the reporting behind the Twitter Files I have noted so far. She calls her backgrounder “Our reporting at Twitter.” (The URL suggests she might have called it “Why we went to Twitter.”) It answers certain of the questions I raised in my previous “Notes on the Twitter Files.” She writes (links omitted):

[W]e—the journalist Matt Taibbi; investigative reporters connected to The Free Press, including Abigail Shrier and Michael Shellenberger; plus Free Press reporters Suzy Weiss, Peter Savodnik, Olivia Reingold, and Isaac Grafstein—camped out in a windowless, fluorescent-lit room at Twitter headquarters and began looking through the company’s vast archive of internal communications.

The only condition Musk imposed was that we first publish our findings on Twitter itself. (We did. Today, on The Free Press, we are publishing versions of those stories that aren’t limited to 280-character chunks.)

Twitter was founded in 2006. It is impossible to calculate how many emails and internal Slack messages and reports it has generated over the years. Looking for information about big subjects relevant to the public—the question of whether Covid-19 started with a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan, say, and how the platform suppressed or shaped the conversation around it—is like trying to put together a 100,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

We also had to work through lawyers using e-discovery tools—software designed for lawyers to help them search huge amounts of information. So we entered search terms—mostly dates and names of former Twitter executives—and, over many hours, files would pop up. We then stitched together a chronology of events and communications.

We did not selectively retrieve, or cherry-pick, files with an eye toward servicing a particular agenda. Our goal was simply to figure out what had happened at crucial moments in the history of the country and the company.

Weiss has much more to say, all of it worth reading. She has additional comments and questions of her own, but I think the background above is most valuable for my own purposes. I encourage interested readers to check out her post in its entirety. It is intensely interesting.

I have commented several times that Twitter is not conducive to long-form reporting. Weiss and her colleagues also report and state or restate their findings in the conventional form in two posts she has also just published: “Twitter’s secret blacklists” and “Why Twitter really banned Trump.”

Going back through my notes this morning, I want to add that Miranda Devine’s New York Post column on the silence of the shams in the MSM is particularly valuable.

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