Twitter Limits Reach of Investigative News Site Bellingcat After Elon Musk’s ‘Psyop’ Accusation on Texas Mall Shooter Investigation

According to reports, Twitter has seemingly restricted the visibility of Bellingcat, an investigative news website. The website’s primary account can no longer be found through Twitter’s search function. Although it is unclear when the change was implemented, Bellingcat founder, Eliot Higgins, tweeted about the issue on Thursday. Insider conducted searches on Friday and confirmed that the main Bellingcat account did not appear in the results. This development came three days after Elon Musk cast doubt on the website’s investigation into the Allen, Texas, mall shooting, which killed eight people.

According to Bellingcat’s report, Mauricio Garcia had several tattoos of Nazi symbols, including a swastika. Additionally, he was found to have made posts on the Russian social media platform Odnoklassniki (OK) expressing his support for white supremacist ideology. Musk tweeted, “Didn’t the story come from Bellingcat, which literally specializes in psychological operations?” “I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but this is either the weirdest story ever or a very bad psyop!”

The Twitter boss, commented on the investigation into the Texas mall shooter by posting several tweets, including a reply of “Odd” to a conspiratorial tweet from an account named “End Wokeness.” In addition, Bellingcat has faced allegations of being associated with the CIA, a claim that Eliot Higgins, the site’s founder, has vehemently denied.

Belling Cat’s Investigation into Mauricio Garcia and Accusations of “Psyop”

Although Bellingcat has the verified checkmark for businesses on Twitter, Higgins removed his verified blue tick after accusations that the Texas mall shooter story was a “psyop.” Bellingcat reported that it discovered Mauricio Garcia’s OK account, a Russian social media platform after the investigators revealed its existence to the New York Times. The shooter had also posted legal documents that revealed his identity.

The term “psyop” generally refers to military operations aimed at influencing people’s political beliefs and emotions through propaganda. However, the time has been misused by online conspiracy theorists to make accusations against the US government, including false flag operations involving terror attacks and mass shootings.

Twitter Limits Reach of Investigative News Site Bellingcat After Elon Musk's 'Psyop' Accusation on Texas Mall Shooter Investigation
Credits: The Independent

Aric Toler, the Bellingcat journalist who reported the story, stated that the site’s account had not appeared in TweetDeck searches for several weeks. In April, Toler co-authored a New York Times article that disclosed the identity of Jake Teixeira, a National Guard airman who leaked classified documents on Discord.

Bellingcat has made a name for itself as an investigative news outlet, and its reputation is built on its rigorous methods and attention to detail. In the case of Jake Teixeira, the National Guard airman who leaked classified documents on Discord, Bellingcat relied on social media images of Teixeira’s house and the counter saw in the background of the leaked document pictures to identify him.

Concerns Over the Role of Twitter in Promoting Free Speech and Independent Journalism

However, in the case of Mauricio Garcia, Bellingcat journalist Aric Toler stated that it was “easily the most open-and-shut case I’ve seen in my life.” The discovery of Garcia’s white supremacist posts on OK and the legal documents that revealed his identity left little doubt about his involvement in the mall shooting.

Despite the questions raised about Twitter’s role in limiting the reach of Bellingcat, the company responded to Insider’s inquiry with an automated message that failed to address the issue. This lack of transparency has only fueled speculation about the social media platform’s relationship with investigative journalism.

Elon Musk’s tweets, which suggested that the story was a “psyop,” only added to the controversy. The lack of transparency from Twitter regarding the disappearance of Bellingcat’s account has led to questions about the platform’s relationship with investigative journalism. As social media continues to play a crucial role in disseminating news, these platforms must not stifle the work of independent journalists and outlets like Bellingcat.