The FBI warned Twitter during weekly meetings prior to the 2020 election that the social media giant could expect “hack-and-leak operations” by “state actors” involving Hunter Biden, according to a declaration by Twitter’s former head of site integrity.
These warnings came ahead of Twitter censoring the New York Post’s bombshell October 2020 report on Hunter Biden’s business dealings found on his laptop, citing its “hacked materials” policy. At the time, the FBI had been in possession of his laptop for nearly a year.
“I was told in these meetings that the intelligence community expected that individuals associated with political campaigns would be subject to hacking attacks and that material obtained through those hacking attacks would likely be disseminated over social media platforms, including Twitter,” Twitter’s former head of site integrity Yoel Roth said in a Dec. 21, 2020, declaration to the Federal Election Commission, the New York Post reported.
“I also learned in these meetings that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden,” Roth continued.
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told podcast host Joe Rogan in August that the FBI had also warned his social media platform to be on “high alert” for “Russian propaganda” ahead of the 2020 election, and that the agency included language specific enough to “fit the pattern” of the Hunter Biden story.
The Hunter Biden story was also censored by Facebook in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Elvis Chan organized the meetings with the platforms. Chan testified Tuesday in a lawsuit against the Biden administration that he organized the meetings with Twitter in San Francisco for as many as seven DC-based FBI agents ahead of the 2020 presidential election. He also organized weekly meetings with Facebook.
The lawsuit was filed by the GOP attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, and alleges that the federal government coordinated with technology giants to censor “disfavored speakers, viewpoints and content on social-media platforms.”
Chan said in his testimony that the FBI warned Twitter to be prepared for a “hack and leak” operation, although he could not recall if Hunter Biden’s name was mentioned.
The latest revelations about FBI warnings to social media companies come after new Twitter CEO Elon Musk suggested Twitter engaged in “election interference” by censoring the Hunter Biden story.
“If Twitter is doing one team’s bidding before an election, shutting down dissenting voices on a pivotal election, that is the very definition of election interference … Frankly Twitter was acting like an arm of the Democratic National Committee. It was absurd,” Musk said during a live Q&A session on Twitter Spaces on Saturday.
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Musk had shared files with Substack journalist Matt Taibbi, who made a Twitter thread Friday revealing screenshots of emails showing that Twitter employees suspended, banned or censored users who commented on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
And law firm Covington & Burling previously told the FEC that Twitter “had been warned throughout 2020 by federal law enforcement agencies to be on the alert for expected ‘hack-and-leak operations’ undertaken by malign state actors, in which those state actors might hack electronic communications of individuals associated with political campaigns and seek to disseminate the leaked materials.”
“Reports from the law enforcement agencies even suggested there were rumors that such a hack-and-leak operation would be related to Hunter Biden,” the law firm added.