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'Let's be honest': Sen. King responds to Republican outcry over so-called Twitter Files

GOP leaders have reportedly accused U.S. Sen. Angus King's campaign of wrongfully flagging more than 350 Twitter accounts back in 2018.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, has found himself the target of Republicans over so-called "Twitter Files," which reportedly show his 2018 campaign flagged hundreds of accounts to the social media company. 

Those "files" have been periodically released online as part of an effort by new Twitter CEO Elon Musk to show how the company previously handled issues of moderating tweets and accounts of conservatives.

Among them is a spreadsheet from King's 2018 re-election campaign to Twitter staff, which listed more than 350 accounts his social media team deemed worthy of review.

Maine Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Androscoggin, who lost to King by a wide margin in 2018, threatened to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission in a press release Tuesday. He claimed several of the flagged accounts were those of his supporters. 

"Compiling blacklists of dissidents for censorship – these are tactics of kingpins and mob bosses, not public servants," Brakey said in statement. 

King did not deny the action taken by his campaign in an interview Tuesday.

"That's what you've got to do in these situations," King told NEWS CENTER Maine.

The report of flagged accounts came after King's campaign was in touch with Twitter over what King called a "misleading" and "doctored" video shared by Brakey's campaign appearing to show King equating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to 9/11.

"Listen, I don't mind a vigorous campaign," King said. "Let's argue about the issues and debate, but let's be honest about what the facts are, what I say, what my opponents say."

Maine's junior senator went on to say that his team would do the same thing if a television station was airing a false ad against him. He said we are experiencing an "epidemic of misinformation." 

"The problem with attacks on social media is it's very hard to respond. It's very hard to know who's reading a particular post," King told NEWS CENTER Maine. "I think campaigns all over the country are looking at this problem."

According to a spokesperson for King, Twitter staff in 2018 requested the campaign share any activity that raised alarms after they reported the initial video. 

They also claimed the flagged accounts were from "both sides of the political spectrum."

"The voters have to be wary that people are actively trying to mislead them," he said. "If somebody's going to come after me with misleading—misinformation, I'm going to respond."

King has been a vocal advocate in recent years to fight misinformation and foreign interference online, including introducing legislation with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, to ban the popular social media app TikTok nationwide. 

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