The federal government has been working with a group of four private companies to flag supposed election “misinformation” for censorship by social media platforms.
Two recent reports, published on Friday and Saturday by Just the News, reveal the group was responsible for the censorship of 20 news outlets during the 2020 election.
After Biden was in the White House, Just the News reported, the group was “rewarded” with millions of taxpayer dollars and its work continues today.
Most of the targeted groups were right-leaning in their coverage. Those outlets include Just the News, the New York Post, The Epoch Times, The Washington Times and the Washington Examiner.
In addition, the group, which calls itself the Election Integrity Partnership, put together a list of “repeat spreaders” of election misinformation in 2020. The list included now-former President Donald Trump, his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and a number of other prominent right-leaning figures on social media.
The four members of the EIP are the Stanford Internet Observatory, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and Graphika, which deals in social media analytics.
In a lengthy report dated June 15, 2021, the EIP describes itself as an “information exchange” between various entities, including “election officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, social media platforms, the media, and the research community.” The report said the EIP helps these groups pass information back and forth regarding supposed “mis- and disinformation” occurring on social media.
Specifically, the EIP identified what it saw as misinformation related to the 2020 election and processed “tickets” — created by the EIP and its partners — to flag that misinformation for the group’s various social media and government partners.
These tickets were later used to asked Big Tech platforms to censor media outlets and “repeat spreaders,” including Trump and his family.
According to Just the News, 35 percent of content flagged by the EIP was removed, throttled or otherwise censored on social media.
The EIP’s work was discovered by former State Department official Mike Benz, who is now with a nonprofit watchdog group called Foundation for Freedom, according to Just the News.
In his own report on the Foundation for Freedom website, Benz wrote that the Department of Homeland Security’s involvement with the group has gone largely unnoticed due to a number of reasons.
For one, the department often labels activities related to combatting so-called social media misinformation as “cybersecurity.” These activities also remain unnoticed, Benz wrote, because the DHS operates as a behind-the-scenes facilitator rather than as a direct censor.
“But perhaps the main reason DHS’s Ministry Of Truth has evaded public attention for so long is that it acts like a coordinator of a censorship network, rather an implementer of specific censorship acts,” Benz wrote.
“By this method, the role of highly visible private sector actors flagging posts on one side and carrying censoring flagged posts on the other — all seemingly on their own — is salient, while the coordinating role of the US government is obscured.”
According to Just the News, the government’s involvement with the EIP could be a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition preventing Congress and, by extension, federal agencies funded by the legislative branch, from passing laws that limit free speech.
In recent years, especially under the Biden administration, the federal government has directed its focus towards censoring social media sources deemed to be spreading “misinformation” — sources that also often happen to be opponents and detractors of the federal government.
In May, the Biden administration paused the development of a new branch of DHS called the “Disinformation Governance Board” following accusations that the department would be used for political censorship.
Nearly a year earlier, on June 15, 2021, the Biden administration announced the “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.” According to a White House statement, the plan involved the federal government increasing its “information sharing with the technology sector.”
There is plenty of evidence to suggest government officials have been coordinating with social media entities to censor speech for some time now. For example, on Aug. 25, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that FBI officials told the company to be on the lookout for Russian disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Shortly thereafter, Facebook — along with Twitter — infamously censored the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Speaking with The Western Journal in 2021, national security expert Jim Hanson claimed the “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” is merely a ploy meant to give the government the ability to censor its political opponents.
“In the guise of protecting us against domestic terrorism, they’re going to work to counter mis- and disinformation with the social media companies,” national security expert Jim Hanson told The Western Journal at the time.
“That’s literally, right there, crossing that First Amendment line,” Hanson said. “They’re just trying to outsource it.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.