Putting the “Twitter Files” in Perspective (Part One)

The latest in an ongoing battle to control the narrative about democracy in America

Micah Sifry
6 min readDec 16, 2022


Elon Musk storming the capitol on January 6th 2021 with Proud Boys (made with stable diffusion)

If you are a “very online person” or even just a somewhat online person, you’ve probably heard something about “The Twitter Files” in the last ten days or so. I tried to stay away, I really did. But while there’s very little to the stories tweet-threads that have been published by Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger based on their reading of internal company files handed to them by Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, the controversy is unfortunately unavoidable. What follows is my best effort at putting it in context.

First, here’s what I think you need to know so far about the so-called “Twitter Files” themselves, which, to date, amount to five installments.

Installment one: Back in October 2020, Twitter executives decided to block the spread of a story about Hunter Biden’s purloined laptop that had appeared in the NY Post. There were lots of reasons to handle the laptop story with kid gloves — foreign powers had previously disrupted the 2016 election with hacked material, other news organizations including the Wall Street Journal and Fox News had passed on the opportunity to get an exclusive on the laptop story, and reporters at the NY Post had refused…