Twitter Files Part 17: The next great media fraud

On Friday, Independent Journalist Matt Taibi published in a tweet thread, part 17 of what as been known as the “Twitter Files”, where former Twitter Head of Safety, Yoel Roth, admits that “legitimate right-leaning accounts” were being accused of being Russian bots.

Roth admits that “Virtually any conclusion drawn from it will take conversations in conservative circles on Twitter and accuse them of being Russian.”

These quotes were tracked by Hamilton 68, the digital dashboard that was used to track Russian influence. The “dashboard” was headed by former FBI counterintelligence official (and current MSNBC contributor) Clint Watts, and funded by a neoliberal think tank, the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD).

The advisory counsel also included neoconservative writer Bill Kristol, former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, ex-Hillary for America chief John Podesta, and former heads or deputy heads of the CIA, NSA, and the Department of Homeland Security.

For years, news outlets cited former FBI counterintelligence official Watts and Hamilton 68 as justification for stories linking Trump to Russia and claiming that Russian bots were “amplifying” social media causes such as stories against strikes in Syria, support for Fox News host Laura Ingraham, and regarding the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

The media used Hamilton 68 as their source when they claimed that terms like the “deep state” and hastags like #FireMcMaster, #SchumerShutdown, #WalkAway, #ReleaseTheMemo, #AlabamaSenateRace, and #ParklandShooting were being pushed by Russian bots.

Twitter executives then used reverse-engineering to recreate Hamilton’s list after discovering that Hamilton 68 appeared to be behind most of the Russian bot claims and when Hamilton 68 refused to release the names of the accounts on their list. Twitter found that the accounts were neither “strongly Russian nor strongly bots.”

They concluded that “No evidence to support the statement that the dashboard is a finger on the pulse of Russian information ops” and that the accounts “Hardly illuminat(ed) a massive influence operation.”

The entire thing was a scam. Hamilton 68 took the accounts of ordinary American and accused them of being Russian bots, when there was zero evidence for it. And Twitter knew it. Roth wrote that “Real people need to know they’ve been unilaterally labeled Russian stooges without evidence or recourse.”

It was so bad that Roth wanted to push back and release the evidence, debunking the claim that Hamilton 68 was tracking Russian bots.

Others such as Carlos Monje, future senior advisor to Transporation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wanted to expose Hamilton 68. Monje wrote “I also have been very frustrated in not calling out Hamilton 68 more publicly, but understand we have to play a longer game here.”

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