Just In Time For The Election - Biden Preparing Another Online Censorship Plan

News Image By SA McCarthy/The Washington Stand May 14, 2024
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Just in time for November's presidential election, federal agencies are reportedly restarting their censorship collaboration with tech and internet giants. At the tech-oriented RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) told reporters that federal agencies like the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have resumed discussions with social media companies regarding "disinformation."

For months, federal agencies have stayed away from communicating with social media companies, following a temporary injunction issued by a federal judge in July. Just over a month ago, after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, now called Murthy v. Missouri and centered on government-requested censorship, the FBI and CISA restarted their liaising with social media companies. 

According to Warner, federal agencies feel comfortable reforging the connection since the Supreme Court justices seemed favorable to the executive branch's arguments. The Intelligence Committee chairman said, "There seemed to be a lot of sympathy that the government ought to have at least voluntary communications with the companies."

In comments to The Washington Stand, FRC Action Director Matt Carpenter said, "With less than six months to go until election day, millions of Americans are wondering what tricks the Biden administration has up its sleeve to tilt the election in its favor."

He continued, "Senator Warner let the cat out of the bag by admitting the federal government will collaborate with social media corporations to shadow ban, or otherwise censor, conservative speech. Last election, these corporations buried information about the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop, specifically related to his business dealings, which implicated his father. We know a significant number of Americans would have voted differently if they knew the truth about the Biden family's crooked deals with foreign actors."

"We are left guessing what information the government and their allies in Silicon Valley will censor this time around, but we know they will censor the American people," Carpenter added. "This is the sort of thing that illustrates the importance of alternative news outlets and social media platforms to speak the truth."

In the wake of the contentious and controversial 2020 presidential election, evidence and testimony has emerged suggesting that the federal government has colluded with tech agencies and social media companies to censor political speech and news online on a broad scale. 

Just last week, the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government published an interim report entitled "The Censorship-Industrial Complex: How Top Biden White House Officials Coerced Big Tech to Censor Americans, True Information, and Critics of the Biden Administration." The report chronicles the efforts of the Biden administration to pressure social media companies and other online titans (such as Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon) to suppress, censor, or silence online speech, information, and other content.

"By suppressing free speech and intentionally distorting public debate in the modern town square, ideas and policies were no longer fairly tested and debated on their merits," the report states of the "devastating" results of the Biden administration's censorship outsourcing. "Instead, policymakers implemented a series of public health measures that proved to be disastrous for the country. From unnecessary extended school closures to unconstitutional vaccine mandates ... the Biden Administration and other officials needlessly imposed harm and suffering on Americans across the country."

Significantly, the report explains that Big Tech companies revised and rewrote their content moderation policies to conform to White House requests. Executives at both Facebook and Amazon said that the White House "pressured" them to do so. One internal Facebook email from 2021 expressly stated that the content moderation policy changes "stemm[ed] from the continued criticism of our approach from the [Biden] administration."

The Biden administration also targeted online content that was not prohibited by companies' content policies, such as news, factual information, and even satire and humor. So long as it represented a negative opinion about the Biden administration or COVID-19 vaccines, the White House wanted it removed. 

Regarding vaccines, one email among Facebook executives said, "The Surgeon General wants us to remove true information about side effects." The report also found that the Biden administration's censorship campaign had a "chilling effect" on other forms of speech, including suppressing the sale of certain books. The almost-900-page report cites hundreds of internal emails from major tech companies concerning the Biden administration's coercive censorship campaign.

A prior report from the committee detailed how the federal government established and used intermediaries to push tech companies to censor and suppress online political speech. "What the federal government could not do directly, it effectively outsourced to the newly emerging censorship-industrial complex," the report stated. 

The government collaborated with private institutions to form the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), which would then field censorship requests from major federal agencies and pass them along to social media companies so that the federal government could "launder its censorship activities in hopes of bypassing both the First Amendment and public scrutiny," the report explained.

Although the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) was the EIP's flagship institution, the report found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) specifically requested, via CISA, that the SIO participate in the creation of the EIP. The report stated that the EIP was "established ... for the express purpose of violating Americans' civil liberties," providing "an unconstitutional workaround for unconstitutional censorship."

In December, "Twitter Files" journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger testified before Congress regarding the federal government's collusion with social media companies to suppress and censor the online speech of Americans in order to influence elections. The "Twitter Files," which Taibbi and Shellenberger published along with fellow reporter Bari Weiss, relied on internal files and information from social media platform Twitter, made available to the reporters by Elon Musk. 

The "Twitter Files" unveiled how the federal government had ordered the suppression of the New York Post's coverage of Hunter Biden's laptop, how Democratic Party operatives had capitalized on their personal relationships with social media company employees to censor conservative reporting and posting, and how the FBI gave Twitter direct orders regarding who to censor, and much more.

More recently, a report from the Media Research Center found that tech giant Google has "interfered in elections" over 40 times since 2008. From hiding or suppressing search results to blacklisting conservative news outlets, Google's political efforts over the past 16 years have impacted and influenced millions of votes.

Originally published at The Washington Stand

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