DHS held monthly meetings with Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, Wikipedia, and other platforms to coordinate “content moderation” operations before 2020 election.
Government agencies circumvented the First Amendment by tasking social media platforms to remove information they didn’t like.
The Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other government agencies have been working closely with numerous Big Tech companies to coordinate widespread censorship operations, leaked internal documents reveal.
According to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) meeting minutes and other records attached to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R), the agencies discussed censorship frameworks and tactics ranging from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to the mechanics of streamlining takedown requests to Big Tech companies for false or intentionally misleading information.
The DHS ramped up their censorship operations leading up to the 2020 election and amid the COVID pandemic to target “inaccurate information” on a wide range of topics, including “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine,” according to a draft copy of DHS’s Quadrennial Homeland Security Review obtained by The Intercept.
The DHS’s online censorship operation was prolific and widespread, thanks to the cooperation of Silicon Valley.
“Prior to the 2020 election, tech companies including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media met on a monthly basis with the FBI, CISA, and other government representatives,” The Intercept reported. “According to NBC News, the meetings were part of an initiative, still ongoing, between the private sector and government to discuss how firms would handle misinformation during the election.”
Emails and documents also revealed Facebook created a portal only accessible to government officials that fast-tracked formal requests to the platform to kill or label alleged misinformation.
“There is also a formalized process for government officials to directly flag content on Facebook or Instagram and request that it be throttled or suppressed through a special Facebook portal that requires a government or law enforcement email to use. At the time of writing, the ‘content request system’ at facebook.com/xtakedowns/login is still live. DHS and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, did not respond to a request for comment. The FBI declined to comment,” The Intercept reported.
The most high-profile instance of the government pressuring social media companies to remove information came with the suppression of the Hunter Biden story days before the 2020 election, where Twitter locked the paper’s account and prevented the story from being shared on its platform.
Likewise, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted the FBI approached Facebook warning about the imminent release of the Hunter Biden story.
The Biden administration tried to publicly codify some of these policies earlier this year with the formation of a “Disinformation Governance Board,” which was quickly scrapped amid massive backlash.
Whistleblowers subsequently revealed the Disinformation Governance Board’s true purpose was to censor information it didn’t like.
The Biden regime also released a “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” directive last June that outlines a “broader priority: enhancing faith in government and addressing the extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation often channeled through social media platforms, which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence.”
But prior to these leaks, it was unclear exactly how the government specifically worked with Big Tech to censor information before the 2020 election and beyond.
These revelations make clear the government tried to create an end-run around the First Amendment by tasking social media platforms to remove information they didn’t like, a constitutional violation.
“The government is not allowed to do indirectly what it is prohibited from doing directly, so if it’s using surrogates like Twitter for a global censorship program, it could run afoul of the Constitution,” constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley noted.
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