Social media giants essentially granted government officials the ability to censor and suppress speech in the name of fighting “misinformation,” by providing them direct access to flag posts and an open line of communication with senior executives, according to a report by The Intercept.
The outlet found that the short-lived Disinformation Governance Board wasn’t the Biden administration’s only attempt at censoring political speech and posts that ran contrary to their preferred narratives.
According to leaked records, meeting minutes, and a lawsuit filed by a pair of Republican attorney generals obtained by The Intercept, top-ranking Biden administration officials seemingly worked hand-in-hand with Big Tech to censor content that the federal government deemed misinformation.
A presentation obtained by The Intercept revealed that Facebook went as far as creating a special portal for the Department of Homeland Security and government partners where they could log in to report “disinformation” directly to the company.
In order to gain access to the back-door portal, a government or law enforcement email was required.
Both DHS and Meta, the parent company of Facebook declined to comment to the outlet when asked why the “content request system” at facebook.com/xtakedowns/login is still active.
Emails and documents obtained by the outlet detailed just how closely DHS was working with the social media companies.
Emails obtained in a federal lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry over purported collaboration between the government and social media companies to censor or suppress speech indicate what appears to be coordination between dozens of federal administration officials and social media executives on how to address information regarding COVID-19 and a range of other content.
“The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad,” Schmitt and Landry said in a joint statement.
DHS did not reply to Newsmax’s request for comment on the lawsuit.
In a request for depositions of several key administration officials, the attorneys general argue that they were directly involved in social media censorship campaigns, especially stories and posts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights what they assert is an open collusion between the government and social media companies.
In addition to requesting depositions from health officials like Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, depositions from cyber officials, including Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) director Jen Easterly, also were made.
According to the deposition request, Easterly oversees the “nerve center” of “federally directed censorship” and views social media speech as a form of “infrastructure,” which means policing it would fall under the purview of her agency’s mission to protect infrastructure.
During a November 2021 conference, she stated: “One could argue we’re in the business of critical infrastructure, and the most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure, so building that resilience to misinformation and disinformation, I think, is incredibly important.”
Leaked CISA meeting minutes indicate how the agency has shifted from protecting critical national infrastructure to policing online misinformation.
While the focus on combating misinformation began before President Joe Biden was elected with CISA fielding possible forms of disinformation from state election officials before sending them to social media companies for a response, its role has seemingly expanded.
In January 2021, CISA replaced the Countering Foreign Influence Task force with the “Misinformation, Disinformation and Malinformation” team, which was on the lookout for all types of disinformation.
Because CISA must adhere to Americans’ right to free speech under the First Amendment, leaked meeting minutes show that Geoff Hale, the director of the Election Security Initiative at CISA, went as far as to recommend the use of third-party information-sharing nonprofits as a “clearing house for trust information to avoid the appearance of government propaganda.”
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