Revelations about Twitter-intel ties raise questions about Big Tech, other sites

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The Twitter Files have provided stunning confirmation of a Deep State-Big Tech conspiracy to censor ideas and individuals deemed harmful to their shared ends — from protecting Joe Biden’s candidacy for president to draconian COVID-19 lockdowns — under the pretext of national security or public health.

But Twitter was far from the only platform with the motive and means to purge dissenting voices from establishment orthodoxy. Nor was it the only such platform with a “Trust and Safety” (read: “censorship”) team helmed by former US intelligence officials, which met regularly with their former security-state employers to combat “misinformation” in the run-up to the 2020 election.

Take Facebook. Since 2016, it has embraced a “content moderation” scheme called “Remove, Reduce, Inform” to address “problematic” content.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as demanded by the Biden administration, Facebook employed the scheme to suppress and counter content violative of the Anthony Fauci party line.

The Senate is looking into censorship on Twitter.
Chuck Grassley was censored by YouTube for posting videos on COVID.
AP

Aaron Berman, Facebook’s misinformation policy chief, described how the company relied on purportedly independent but reliably progressive fact-checkers to flag COVID “misinformation” during an August 2021 Stanford University-convened conference on America’s “INFODEMIC.” 

Facebook would remove such content, limit its reach into users’ feeds algorithmically and/or slap warning labels on it featuring links to “authoritative information” in a bid, for example, to combat “vaccine hesitancy” — which would also trigger its algorithm to reduce distribution. 

Berman also describes “Minority Report”-like “predictive” AI tools that Facebook leveraged to determine questionable content likely to go viral for targeting. 

Facebook removed pages, groups and accounts that repeatedly featured such content.

As with many Twitter officials involved in content-moderation decisions, Berman had been a 17-plus-year employee of the CIA, where among other things he wrote and edited the President’s Daily Brief. Ex-intelligence officials from the CIA, FBI, DHS and beyond fill Facebook’s trust and safety team ranks.

Facebook has applied such tools on myriad other topics, including algorithmically limiting the distribution of The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story weeks before the 2020 presidential election — flagging posts even from US senators like Republican Chuck Grassley on the doings of John Durham’s Russiagate special counsel and reducing the reach of “hyperposters” who had spread “misinformation” during the 2016 election. 

Facebook has even applied flags to certain individuals to diminish content connected with them, such as when the platform labeled Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting a “mass murder,” and on those grounds, blocked searches of his name and content in “praise or support” of him.

Mark Zuckerberg’s platform has also created a two-tier censorship system known as “XCheck,” under which Facebook had, as of 2020, “whitelisted” some 5.8 million “VIPs” who were not subjected to the same censorship rules mere mortals faced.

Jacqueline Lopour, an ex-CIA analyst who serves as senior manager for intelligence collections at Google.
Jacqueline Lopour, an ex-CIA analyst, serves on Google’s trust and safety staff.
CBC

Searching Google

Google-owned YouTube has repeatedly censored content and suspended figures up to and including Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and Rand Paul for posting videos on their channels featuring COVID wrongthink. 

It has demonetized and limited the reach of videos on subjects from the Ten Commandments to Karl Marx and everywhere in between posted by conservative publishers like PragerU, according to a lawsuit filed by the group.

YouTube terminated thousands of channels covering content of which it disapproved during the 2020 election. 


Catch up on Twitter’s censorship of The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story


In October 2021, the platform declared it would not allow ads or monetization for content that “contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change.”

Though it denies it targets anyone for politics, evidence suggests Google’s dominant search function reduced in its rankings results from conservative sources such as Breitbart, the Daily Caller and The Federalist, thereby hurting their traffic. 

Not even email is immune. The Republican National Committee is suing Google over claims it politically discriminated against it by sending millions of RNC emails to recipients’ spam folders in Gmail — undermining its fundraising and electioneering efforts. 

Public records show Google’s trust and safety staff, like that of Twitter and Facebook, is filled with longtime intelligence community officials. Representative among them is Jacqueline Lopour, an ex-CIA analyst who serves as senior manager for intelligence collections, which manages “intel operations” on, among other things, “misinformation” and “hate speech,” according to LinkedIn. 

Riot mods

The Jan. 6 Capitol breach was, of course, used to justify some of the most dramatic interventions in the digital public square. Beyond the deplatforming of former President Donald Trump and mass account suspensions and pervasive censorship of offending content regarding the 2020 election that ensued, in the day’s immediate wake, Amazon removed Parler from its cloud hosting service, and Apple and Google booted it from its app store, effectively disappearing the conservative-friendly alternative social media company. 

The censorship goes beyond social media and search platforms. Amazon has refused to host advertising for books like Mike Gonzalez’s “BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution” and Abigail Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” It removed Ryan T. Anderson’s similarly themed “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” from the world’s largest bookstore altogether. 

There have even been efforts to take down entire conservative networks. 

After House Democrats sent letters to various cable, satellite and streaming providers questioning whether they would continue carrying networks such as Fox News, Newsmax and OANN in light of their allegedly spreading of misinformation pertaining to the 2020 election and pandemic, both AT&T-owned DirecTV and Verizon dropped OANN from their channel offerings.

This is to say nothing of the various e-commerce, e-mail delivery, hosting and fundraising platforms that have effectively curbed speech by booting users supportive of policies with which they disagree.

What of the coordination between many of these companies and the US national security apparatus?

Berman worked for the CIA for 14 years.
Aaron Berman, Facebook’s misinformation policy chief and a 17-year veteran of the CIA, described how the company relied on purportedly independent but reliably progressive fact-checkers to flag COVID “misinformation.”

As NBC News reported back in August 2020, the likes of not just Twitter but Facebook, Google and myriad other companies met with federal government officials from the FBI, DOJ, CISA and ODNI to discuss the handling of “misinformation” prior to the November election. 

These “government partners” had been meeting with such companies regularly and would continue doing so in the run-up to the election.

We also know that on top of Twitter’s response to direct calls for censorship from the FBI, the national security apparatus also fed censorship requests to a cutout, the University of Washington and Stanford University-led Election Integrity Partnership, which conveyed more than 4,800 of those requests to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms. The platforms censored 35% of all flagged items.

Where does it end?

This raises questions about how pervasive was the censorship regime to which Americans were subjected during the throes of the pandemic through the 2020 election, and perhaps in this past November’s midterms. 

What role is the federal government playing right now — as outgoing House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff and his Democratic colleagues badger the likes of Meta to maintain their censorship policies — in rigging the digital public square-turned-intelligence asset in its favor?

And where are the Facebook Files? And the Google Files? 

House Republicans have an obligation to not only expose the coordinated government-Big Tech assault on the First Amendment but to prevent such corruption of our political system and undermining of liberties from ever happening again.

Benjamin Weingarten is deputy editor of RealClearInvestigations.

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