Reporter Matt Taibbi reports that Twitter and other tech firms it held a regular “industry meeting” with FBI and DHS, and developed a formal system for receiving thousands of content reports from every corner of government: HHS, Treasury, NSA, even local police.
The Woodstock of the Censorship-Industrial Complex came when the Aspen Institute – which receives millions a year from both the State Department and USAID – held a star-studded confab in Aspen in August 2021 to release its final report on “Information Disorder.”
The report was co-authored by Katie Couric and Chris Krebs, the founder of the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Yoel Roth of Twitter and Nathaniel Gleicher of Facebook were technical advisors. Prince Harry joined Couric as a Commissioner.
This is the Censorship-Industrial Complex at its essence: a bureaucracy willing to sacrifice factual truth in service of broader narrative objectives. It’s the opposite of what a free press does.
The ultimate example of the absolute fusion of state, corporate, and civil society organizations is the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), whose “Election Integrity Partnership” is among the most voluminous “flaggers”.After public uproar “paused” the Orwellian “Disinformation Governance Board” of the DHS in early 2020, Stanford created the EIP to “fill the gaps” legally. EIP research manager Renee DiResta boasted that while filling “gaps,” the EIP succeeded in getting “tech partners” Google, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter to take action on “35% of the URLS flagged” under “remove, reduce, or inform” policies.
According to the EIP’s own data, it succeeded in getting nearly 22 million tweets labeled in the runup to the 2020 vote. EIP was partnered with state entities like CISA and GEC while seeking elimination of millions of tweets.
After the 2020 election, when EIP was renamed the Virality Project, the Stanford lab was on-boarded to Twitter’s JIRA ticketing system, absorbing this government proxy into Twitter infrastructure – with a capability of taking in an incredible 50 million tweets a day. The Virality Project recommends that multiple platforms take action even against “stories of true vaccine side effects” and “true posts which could fuel hesitancy.” None of the leaders of this effort to police Covid speech had health expertise.
Profiles portray DiResta as a warrior against Russian bots and misinformation, but reporters never inquire about work with DARPA, GEC, and other agencies. DiResta has become the public face of the Censorship-Industrial Complex, a name promoted everywhere as an unquestioned authority on truth, fact, and Internet hygiene, even though her former firm, New Knowledge, has been embroiled in two major disinformation scandals. Packaged as a bulwark against lies and falsehood, the the Censorship-Industrial Complex is often a major source of disinformation, with American taxpayers funding their own estrangement from reality.
DiResta’s New Knowledge helped design the Hamilton 68 project.
As a result of Hamilton’s efforts, all sorts of people were falsely tied in press stories to “Russian bots”: former House Intel chief Devin Nunes, #WalkAway founder Brandon Straka, and other people that used the term “deep state”.
Hamilton 68 was funded by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which in turn was funded by the German Marshall Fund, which in turn is funded in part by – the Department of State.
Then there was “Project Birmingham,” in which thousands of fake Russian Twitter accounts were created to follow Alabama Republican Roy Moore in his 2017 race for US Senate. Newspapers reported Russia seemed to take an interest in the race, favoring Moore. Though at least one reporter for a major American paper was at a meeting in September, 2018 when New Knowledge planned the bizarre bot-and-smear campaign, the story didn’t break until December, two days after DiResta gave a report on Russian interference to the Senate. Internally, Twitter correctly assessed the Moore story as far back as fall of 2017, saying it had no way if knowing if the Moore campaign purchased the bots, or if “an adversary purchased them… in an attempt to discredit them.”
When pressed, Twitter Yoel Roth said, “We shouldn’t comment.” Repeatedly in the #TwitterFiles, when Twitter learned the truth about scandals like Project Birmingham, they said nothing–Reporters also kept quiet, protecting fellow “stakeholders.” Twitter stayed silent out of political caution. DiResta, who ludicrously claimed she thought Project Birmingham was just an experiment to “investigate to what extent they could grow audiences… using sensational news,” hinted at a broader reason.
The incident underscored the extreme danger of the Censorship-Industrial Complex. Without real oversight mechanisms, there is nothing to prevent these super-empowered information vanguards from bending the truth for their own ends.