As the saga of the “Twitter Files” continues, the platform’s former CEO Jack Dorsey seems to be wondering why we can’t just hurry this up already and dump all of the company’s related dirt in one fell swoop.
On Wednesday, following revelations about new potentially unsavory activity related to the Hunter-Biden-laptop-scandal, Dorsey asked his pal and successor, Elon Musk, to basically do a Wikileaks-style flush of Twitter’s internal documents.
“If the goal is transparency to build trust, why not just release everything without filter and let people judge for themselves? Including all discussions around current and future actions? Make everything public now,” Dorsey tweeted Wednesday, in response to a thread previously posted by Musk.
If you haven’t been following, Musk has been airing the platform’s dirty laundry in public for the past week or so. Last Friday, the tech CEO hailed the release of the “Twitter Files,” an exposé by investigative journalist Matt Taibbi that involves internal documents about the company’s decision-making related to the notorious New York Post story incident.
Don’t remember the Post incident? Well, apologies for the multitude of digressions but this whole situation is sorta complicated.
It all started with Hunter Biden’s laptop. Yeah, remember the laptop? In 2019, the troubled younger Biden is alleged to have somehow lost a MacBook Pro that contained a whole bunch of pictures of him doing drugs and cavorting with hookers. Supposed emails from this laptop somehow ended up in the hands of New York Post reporters and, three weeks before the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, the newspaper published a story about them. Citing somewhat vague justifications about a violation of its “hacked materials” policy, Twitter proceeded to suppress access to the story and subsequently suspended the New York Post’s Twitter account for a period of some three weeks. Conservatives accused the tech company of playing politics and some alleged that, by suppressing the story, the company was attempting to help Joe Biden get elected.
Now, reporters Taibbi and Bari Weiss have been given access to emails and other company documents that reveal the platform’s internal deliberations as they sought to suppress the Post story. Taibbi has characterized Twitter’s suppression of the story as a disturbing infringement on free speech.
Jack, Twitter’s prophet-bearded former CEO, similarly seems to want to clear the air. His suggestion—that Musk release the docs—is definitely interesting. Dorsey himself isn’t accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the “Files.” That said, it’s worth asking: just what the heck is Jack doing?
The former Twitter CEO has kept a fairly even posture when it comes to both his former workplace and Twitter’s new supreme leader, Musk. Dorsey actually advocated for Musk to take over, going to bat for him when it became apparent that the tech scion wanted to commandeer the platform: “Elon is the singular solution I trust,” he said in April, not long after the wheels starting turning for the acquisition. At the same time, Dorsey has kept himself close to Twitter while also venturing somewhat afield. Lately, he’s been piloting what some have called a Twitter competitor and/or “alternative,” the social media initiative Bluesky. However, Bluesky was actually spawned by Twitter’s parent company, so it’s basically a spinoff of the company—not a rival. In October, Bluesky announced that it would be accepting sign-ups for a new service, and made gestures at the idea that it was gearing up to launch a more useable product. As Twitter continues to waffle and Bluesky flutters its wings, it’s somewhat unclear what Jack’s longterm strategy is or what his hopes for both platforms are.
Whatever happens with Bluesky, it seems like Dorsey’s former home, Twitter, may not out of the woods yet when it comes to its current troubles. Jack’s casual missive about releasing “everything” came not long after news broke Tuesday that the company had fired (or, as Musk put it, “exited”) James Baker, the platform’s former Deputy General Counsel. According to Musk, Baker was fired because, without Musk’s knowledge, he had “vetted” the Twitter Files before they were officially “leaked” by Taibbi last week. This has disturbed some because of Baker’s former job as FBI general counsel under James Comey and his apparent role in assisting with the probe into former President Donald Trump. Again, conservatives see evidence of political bias. In 2020, the FBI very publicly announced that it was investigating whether the Hunter Biden laptop story was “disinformation,” and a recent admission by Twitter’s former head of site integrity shows that, during the time period, bureau officials also warned Twitter executives about potential “hack-and-leak operations” by “state actors” that could involve information about Hunter. Taken together, Baker’s association with the bureau and his apparent “vetting” of the Twitter Files has made him suspect to critics. However, it’s not totally clear what reporters have meant when they say Baker “vetted” the files, nor is it totally clear why that would have been inappropriate, given the fact that he was one of the company’s top lawyers.
Nevertheless, Baker is out now. “In light of concerns about Baker’s possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue, he was exited from Twitter today,” Musk wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
The “Twitter Files” episode has been unique for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that giant tech companies typically don’t rat on themselves when it comes to issues of corporate misconduct. Sure, there are plenty of whistleblower scandals (see: the Facebook Papers), in which a formerly loyal employee decides to spill the beans on the company’s best kept secrets...but, in general, that whistleblower usually isn’t the company’s new CEO.