Twitter reportedly allowed the Pentagon to use the platform to carry out a covert online propaganda and influence campaign for at least five years, according to the latest release of “Twitter Files” published on Tuesday.
According to internal company documents shared by reporter Lee Fang of The Intercept, Twitter followed a request by the Defense Department in verifying and “whitelisting” accounts affiliated with US Central Command in an attempt to change public opinion in middle eastern countries including Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Kuwait.
The government-run accounts frequently shared news clips and memes in the Arabic language. While the accounts were originally open about their affiliation with the US government, they later concealed this fact.
This goes against comments made by Twitter executives, who have previously claimed that they don’t allow governments to use the platform to spread propaganda.
Despite these claims, Twitter allowed the accounts to spread their messages freely and without restrictions.
According to Lee Fang, the first known reference to the propaganda campaign appears in a July 2017 email from Nathaniel Kahler, a CENTCOM official, who was requesting approval for the verification of one of their accounts and the whitelisting of 52 Arab-language accounts that the official said were used to “amplify certain messages.”
“We’ve got some accounts that are not indexing on hashtags — perhaps they were flagged as bots,” the CENTCOM official wrote. “A few of these had built a real following and we hope to salvage.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WASHINGTON EXAMINER
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