FBI declines to list other social media companies it paid, says $3.5 thousand Twitter payment was ‘reimbursement’


The Federal Bureau of Investigation is declining to specify what other social media companies the federal agency gave money to after Fox News confirmed that it paid Twitter nearly $3.5 million.

FBI officials told Fox News that the nearly $3.5 million payment to Twitter was a “reimbursement” for the “reasonable costs and expenses associated with their response to a legal process… For complying with legal requests, and a standard procedure.”

The FBI officials also said that Twitter isn’t the only social media company that is being paid by the federal agency, telling Fox News “We don’t just reimburse Twitter.”

When asked by Fox News what other companies have been reimbursed by the FBI as details about the payments, the FBI officials declined to elaborate.

FBI RESPONSES TO TWITTER FILES DISCLOSURES, SAYS IT DIDN’T REQUEST ‘ANY ACTION’ ON SPECIFIC TWEETS

A split image of an FBI agent in an official windbreaker and the Twitter logo on a blue screen.
(iStock and AP Photo/Gregory Bull, respectively)

“While we are not able to speak to specific payments, the government is required to provide reimbursement for reasonable expenses directly related to searching for, assembling, reproducing, or otherwise providing the information responsive to the legal process. This requirement is set by federal law and the courts are the final arbitrators of what is reasonable compensation,” the FBI officials said.

Twitter’s former Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker was told in one email shared by independent journalist Michael Shellenberger that the company has collected $3,415,323 from the FBI.

“Jim, FYI, in 2019 SCALE instituted a reimbursement program for our legal process response from the FBI. Prior to the start of the program, Twitter chose not to collect under this statutory right of reimbursement for the time spent processing requests from the FBI, “a former Twitter employee wrote. “I am happy to report we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019! This money is used by LP for things like the TTR and other LE-related projects (LE training, tooling, etc.).”

Substack writer and journalist Matt Taibbi tweeted several internal files between FBI employees and Twitter workers as part of the Twitter Files.

ELON MUSK CLASHES WITH ‘TWITTER FILES’ JOURNO BARI WEISS AFTER SHE CRITICIZES JOURNALIST SUSPENSIONS

This Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, photo shows a Twitter sign outside the company's headquarters in San Francisco.

This Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, photo shows a Twitter sign outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.
(Reuters)

“Hello Twitter contacts, FBI San Francisco is notifying you of the below accounts which may potentially constitute violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service for any action or inaction deemed appropriate within Twitter policy,” one FBI employee wrote in an email on Nov. 10.

In the email, an FBI employee listed several Twitter accounts that might violate the social media company’s terms of service.

In response, a Twitter employee said that three of the four accounts were suspended and asked another person at the company to review the fourth account flagged by the FBI for “possible civic misinformation.”

Taibbi said that one of the accounts tweeted on Nov. 8, “I want to remind Republicans to vote tomorrow, Wednesday November 9.”

In another email shared by Taibbi, the “Public Sector Engagement Squad” at the FBI’s San Francisco office notified Twitter employees of “account activities” that “potentially constitute violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service.”

One of the Tweets flagged by the FBI states, “Americans, Vote today. Democrats you vote Wednesday 9th.”

The FBI officials also told Fox News that it didn’t give Twitter employees “specific instructions or details regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story.”

When asked by Fox News if the FBI used back channel communications with employees at Twitter to spike or suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story, the FBI officials said “We did not request anything of the sort..”

“We focus on activities attributed to foreign actors, not on the content or narrative,” the FBI officials said when asked if the agency provided no information to Twitter employees directly or indirectly, or regarding Russian influence and Hunter Biden.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation emblem is seen on the headquarters building in Washington DC, United States, on October 20, 2022.

Federal Bureau of Investigation emblem is seen on the headquarters building in Washington DC, United States, on October 20, 2022.
(Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

When pressed on the issue, the FBI officials said that “We did not discuss or provide instruction regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop or associated media coverage.”

In a statement shared with Fox News, an FBI spokesperson said, “The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries. As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers.”

“The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency,” the spokesperson added.

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