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Tech companies collude with DHS, DOJ monthly on censorship, says report

'Platforms have got to get comfortable with gov’t'

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Yudi Sherman

Yudi Sherman

Yudi Sherman

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Shining a spotlight on media and government disinformation.

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November 01, 2022

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06:15 AM

Tech companies collude with DHS, DOJ monthly on censorship, says report

 

A report published by The Intercept Monday reveals that tech companies have been meeting monthly with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials to discuss censoring speech unapproved by the government. 

Before the 2020 election, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media met monthly with the FBI, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and other officials. 

Under the pretext of “combating misinformation”, the government has been working with tech companies to restrict speech surrounding “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.” 

In a text between Microsoft executive Matt Masterson and DHS director Jen Easterly, Masterson obsequiously said that “Platforms have got to get comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain,” while also blaming his own employer for not doing enough to censor unapproved speech. 

Indeed, the relationship between the government and the tech companies became so comfortable that a portal was set up for government officials to send their censorship demands to the tech companies, who could then rapidly take down the offending content. 

FBI agent Laura Dehmlow was allegedly the contact whose communications led Facebook to censor the Hunter Biden story in 2020, reported The Intercept’s Lee Fang. This year, Dehmlow met with the DHS and Twitter to demand “a media infrastructure that is held accountable.” 

In an internal strategy meeting, one DHS official suggested that third-party non-profit organizations be used as “clearing houses for information” to “avoid the appearance of government propaganda.” 

Furthermore, while the Biden administration distracted the public earlier this year with the creation of a “Disinformation Governance Board,” a project ultimately scuttled due to public outcry, Fang says a real "Ministry of Truth” had already been set up within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a body under the DHS. Among CISA’s members were Twitter Head of Legal Policy, Trust, and Safety Vijaya Gadde, who was last week terminated by Elon Musk, and University of Washington professor Kate Starbird. 

In September documents obtained by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry revealed a “censorship enterprise” between the two powers, identifying “45 federal officials at DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General (all of which are contained in either DHS or HHS) that communicate with social media platforms about ‘misinformation’ and censorship.” 

Beyond that, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, disclosed that at least 32 officials – including senior officials at the FDA, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the White House were in communication with the social media giant about “content moderation”. Google-owned YouTube made similar disclosures. 

Other emails reveal that Twitter and Facebook executives asked CDC officials for help in debunking claims including criticism of injecting infants with the COVID-19 injections. The CDC was happy to oblige, deeming nearly every single claim false, often without explanation except “it is reasonable to assume these statements may lead to vaccine refusal.”  

 “Thank you so much again, I can’t reiterate enough how helpful this is for us to remove these misinfo claims ASAP!” a Facebook executive gushed.  

In other emails, the CDC and Facebook officials agree to have monthly meetings in addition to their weekly meetings to further help them debunk “misinformation”.  

Another email shows White House COVID-19 Response Team Digital Director Clarke Humphrey asking Facebook to remove a Fauci parody account.  

“Yep, on it!” the Facebook employee replied. The account was de-platformed within six minutes. 

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