censorship,  Democracy,  Social Media

The Twitter Files, Elon Musk and the nature of bias

By Jurek Molnar

You tried to be a hero
Commit the perfect crime
But the dollar got you dancing
And you’re running out of time
Supertramp, Child of Vision

The most remarkable feature of Elon Musk’s platform X, formerly known as Twitter, is that it is still running. After Musk has acquired the company, for which he had to deliver 44 billion $ worth in shares, paying out every single stock owner in the market, he fired roughly between 75% and 80% of former employees. Within three months the complete staff was reduced to 1500 engineers, technicians, sales persons and a few customer service people. The ones who had been released were the entire higher management level, all executives except co-founder Jack Dorsey, the DEI departments and the numerous teams that handled “content moderation”. Among these “content moderators” were official FBI agents, who handled the communication between Twitter executives and the Democratic Party (before 2020) and the American government (after 2020). Elon Musk gave access to the massive amount of documents that later became known as the “Twitter Files” to several journalists and writers, among them Michael Shellenberger, Bari Weiss or Matt Taibi, who got an exclusive insight into what happened at Twitter during the Trump presidency and the Covid pandemic. The “Twitter Files” are fully available under the address


They consist of 19 different reports, called “episodes”. These chapters cover different parts of the email exchanges between Twitter executives and high level management, political decision makers from Washington and a surprising high amount of FBI officials. The topics they discussed range from the promotion of “Russiagate”, the deletion of Donald Trump’s account, the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story, to the cancelling, censorship and shadow banning of scientists, journalists and private citizens on Twitter, who did not support the Covid restrictions, the promotion of vaccine mandates or simply made scientific research available that contradicted the particular Covid narrative, that was promoted at a specific time.

If one searches for the “Twitter Files” on Google, something very interesting happens. The highest entry for the “Twitter Files” is a Wikipedia entry, and then there are mostly links to press coverage on the Twitter Files, depending on the country one lives in. There is not a single link to the Twitter Files themselves in the whole Google Search page. One can look further, but while this selection may vary depending on your particular region, the list is restricted to comparably very few results. Alternatively one can use another search engine, for instance https://metager.de/.

If one makes a search there, the original website of the Twitter Files is one of the first entries in the list, as one would expect. I would like readers to try for themselves, if they have similar or completely different results on alternative web search engines. Why does Google not link to the original website? It seems to be the result of a conscious decision. Google obviously excludes the original website from its search results and since it is the most popular search engine in the world, it purposefully hides the details of the scandal from public exposure. In a sane world this would be called “disinformation”, but in our world it is simply not called anything.

Looking at the Wikipedia entry, the page sums up most of the themes the Twitter files are dealing with, including a wide range of press coverage, but does not link a single time to the original Twitter Files website. It is the same problem as before and we are still at the Google web search, where the Wikipedia entry is on the first position. Articles in the press that are listed on the Google Search page do not link to the original Twitter Files website either.

I am living in Austria, a country in the middle of Europe and there may be local differences, but the Twitter Files cover mostly American domestic issues, which have only minor relevance to any political debate outside. Or so I thought, but in reality the majority of German mainstream media followed the line that Elon Musk is a right wing conspiracy nutcase, who uses his billions to destroy democracy. If Google censors American audiences, that’s really fine with me. I am not an American and I don’t care at all, what they are doing with their spare time. It is probably for the good of humanity, that Americans cannot access via Google this piece of journalism. But it does not make sense at all that Google censors the outcomes for people living in foreign countries, who cannot vote in the US or do not influence any opinion in the American political market. Another interesting exercise will be, if one is able to find this particular ATL on HP with a Google search. I personally assume that the algorithm is filtering out any page that contains the link. But we shall see.

The most obvious question at this point should be: Why does Google hide the link? The Twitter Files expose people like Vijaya Gadde, Yoel Roth or Renée DiResta as central figures of the “Censorship Industrial Complex” (Michael Shellenberger). If there is anything libellous about that statement, they can simply sue Musk and deny the publication by a simple court ruling. Why didn’t they? Are there any legal cases in court right now regarding the truth what happened at Twitter between 2016 and 2022? The answer is most likely that the people involved don’t want to be too open about the facts that are documented. There is obviously no interest to make these facts more public than they already are. What they do instead is to bury it. If Google censors the access to the Twitter Files, most people won’t notice it anyway and so any consequence can be easily avoided. Democracy dies in darkness, they used to say.

One of my first ideas for this piece was to document certain things from the Twitter Files, but I pulled away from that, because the Twitter Files mostly cover domestic American policies and I am not an American. What I find nevertheless interesting about them as a written document is the clearness of its statements. Matt Taibi writes:

“Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary.”

And he continues: “The Twitter exec writes she explicitly asked if there were ‘impediments’ to the sharing of classified information ‘with industry’. The answer? ‘FBI was adamant no impediments to sharing exist.’ This passage underscores the unique one-big-happy-family vibe between Twitter and the FBI. With what other firm would the FBI blithely agree to ‘no impediments’ to classified information?”

Or in another chapter:

“Twitter was more like a partner to government.”

This statement alone is a devastating judgement, if one recalls the excuse that Twitter is a “private company”, which can do whatever it wants. It is useful to know something about Gramscian Marxism and the idea of the “state apparatus” (Louis Althusser). In this theory, institutions, which are private and non-political in their basic nature, play important roles for the state to secure the hegemony of the ruling class. Their private and non-political character makes them extremely effective for the reproduction of the dominant ideology. (As Marxists would say.) Twitter, between 2016 and 2022, was such a “state apparatus”. The “ideological state apparatus” (ISA), as Louis Althusser called it, is an institution that is designed to reproduce and safeguard the current narrative. In times of social media the most important ISA is the fact checking agency. Twitter used their own fact checking mechanism to support or debunk claims, as Michael Shellenberger found out:

“The #TwitterFiles show the principals of this incestuous self-appointed truth squad moving from law enforcement/intelligence to the private sector and back, claiming a special right to do what they say is bad practice for everyone else: be fact-checked only by themselves. While Twitter sometimes pushed back on technical analyses from NGOs about who is and isn’t a ‘bot’, on subject matter questions like vaccines or elections they instantly defer to sites like Politifact, funded by the same names that fund the NGOs: Koch, Newmark, Knight.”

I can recommend everyone to take a look into the documentation of the Twitter Files. Twitter before Musk understood its own role as a surveillance agency of accounts, people and organisations that did consciously or unconsciously contradict government opinion, or before 2020 the opinions of the Democratic Party. And since the majority of voters in Big Tech companies are Democratic Party affiliates, it is no wonder why Google restricted the access to the Twitter Files. They simply can. What they can also do is to mark everyone who speaks about it as a right wing conspiracy nutcase. The simple move by Google and Wikipedia not to show the link does tell us a lot about the mechanisms of online censorship in the modern era. At first glance it is a major breach of trust in the integrity of online platforms that do not understand themselves as political actors, but impartial information providers. They are obviously not and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. What is more damaging in my point of view is the sheer infamy to deny that the Twitter Files describe an actual reality. They demonstrate that every ruling class will necessarily abuse its power to stay in power and to prevent the exposure of its crimes. The point is really not the political affiliation as such, because the Trump administration would have done the same. But the most damaging fact is that the Democratic Party, which considers itself as the Trump antidote is equally or even more corrupt. On another occasion I wrote that democracy will abandon itself. The story of the Twitter Files tell us clearly that this process is in full advancement.

The nature of bias is not an easy task to explore, but it can be explained best by the proposition that people who are involved in the combat of misinformation, accept misinformation immediately if it serves their own interest. That’s what bias is and does. Not providing a link to the Twitter Files is an act of misinformation, but since it has some value to people who are involved that the link remains hidden in a Google search, it is firmly accepted as “necessary”. The reaction of mainstream media, Democratic Party affiliates and left wing pundits all over the world was to denounce the release of the Twitter Files as “conspiracy theory”, dismiss the facts that the documents provide and outcast anyone who does not comply with the official Party line, that Musk is a danger to democracy. And if called out, they will claim that it is a right wing conspiracy that they have called it a right wing conspiracy.

The result of bias is endless contradiction. Since Trump, Musk or Christians are a danger to democracy, democracy, free speech and access to information must be restricted to save it. There is no irony here, only faith in the moral foundations of people who use their power ruthlessly. The self-delusional nature of these knights, who want to save us from their political enemies, is the simple conviction using the right words is enough to guarantee their credibility. What they prove instead is the idea of Polybius, 200 BC, that the alternative to democracy, which is the game of ambitious politicians to manipulate the masses, is the “epistocracy”. Jason Brennan, a political scientist wrote in his book “Against Democracy” (2016) that the actual democratic process encourages “citizens to be ignorant, irrational, tribalistic, and to not use their votes in very serious ways”. In order to fix that problem, Brennan proposes an informed elite: “Citizens may acquire the legal right to vote and run for office only if they pass a test of basic political knowledge.” Because most people are Hobbits, politically uninterested and passive and easily distracted by Hooligans, political partisans without respect for other opinions, only Vulcans, reasonable, educated and well informed people, can make the decisions. That is basically Jason Brennans political theory.

Brennans ideas are not at all uninteresting and would deserve a far more detailed analysis, but the basic pattern is very old and goes back to Plato, who proposed in his “Republic” the rule of philosopher kings. In order to establish this true democracy of informed elites, a vanguard is necessary to protect this fragile leadership of Vulcans, to keep the Hooligans at bay and safeguard the Hobbits from malicious fake news. The vanguards have to be in control of all the data that is available for citizens, filtering out the misinformation, regulating the discourse along certain parameters of political allegiance and preventing the enemies of Vulcan democracy from taking over. This kind of authority needs complete control and more or less total power. Everyone who is not part of the Vulcans (i.e.: everyone without an Ivy League college degree) has to be faithful that the informed elite act in the best universal interest, which is of course delusional. Brennans political vision is another version of the idea that people who get into power by some ideological utopian fantasy will act as if they aren’t in power, which is criminally stupid. What we can see very clearly is that elites who pretend to act in the name of some universal good, can only pursue their own business interests and lie about the rest. The Twitter Files have exposed how an epistocracy really works and how it looks like. But that is of course also just a right wing conspiracy.