The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has been hosting meetings with internet platforms and allowing those platforms to flag for deletion any material to which they object. This until now secret program resulted in the federal bureaucracy meddling in the 2020 elections.
You can read the whole 48 pages of minutes at this link.
The documents were obtained by Missouri Attorney General and Republican Senate candidate Eric Schmitt as part of an investigation he is conducting. The left-wing site The Intercept did the initial reporting.
The Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Misinformation and Disinformation Subcommittee meetings began during the 2020 election. That means it was organized and operated under President Donald Trump’s appointees in an organization he created in 2018.
In coordination with this committee, Facebook developed a web portal where “partners” can identify material that the “partner” doesn’t want distributed, and Facebook will see to taking it down or making it nearly impossible to share. The portal, facebook.com/xtakedowns/login, was in operation as I wrote this.
You can see the official briefing on how this worked at this link.
Targets for government intervention in free speech were identified as “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.”
This was no small operation.
Prior to the 2020 election, tech companies including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media met on a monthly basis with the FBI, CISA, and other government representatives. According to NBC News, the meetings were part of an initiative, still ongoing, between the private sector and government to discuss how firms would handle misinformation during the election.
If you want to see how bureaucracy that isn’t ruthlessly supervised, this should be a Harvard Business School case study. It started out to combat “foreign” influence in elections and the spread of rumors that could suppress voter turnout (like “vote by text”). By the time of the 2020 election, this type of thing was happening.
During the 2020 election, the Department of Homeland Security, in an email to an official at Twitter, forwarded information about a potential threat to critical U.S. infrastructure, citing FBI warnings, in this case about an account that could imperil election system integrity.
The Twitter user in question had 56 followers, along with a bio that read “dm us your weed store locations (hoes be mad, but this is a parody account),” under a banner image of Blucifer, the 32-foot-tall demonic horse sculpture featured at the entrance of the Denver International Airport.
“We are not sure if there’s any action that can be taken, but we wanted to flag them for consideration,” wrote a state official on the email thread, forwarding on other examples of accounts that could be confused with official government entities. The Twitter representative responded: “We will escalate. Thank you.”
The FBI is heavily involved in the process. At least 80 FBI “personnel” are involved in collecting, monitoring, and evaluating the social media communications sent and read by Americans. They are supposed to stomp out “subversive data utilized to drive a wedge between the populace and the government.” Imagine that the government suppressing information that makes the populace upset with the government.
FBI officials describe being taken off international terrorism details and reassigned to warrantless monitoring of Americans. Turns out there are also ongoing meetings between the FBI, Big Tech, and major media outlets on speech
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 31, 2022
According to records filed in federal court, two previously unnamed FBI agents — Elvis Chan, an FBI special agent in the San Francisco field office, and Dehmlow, the section chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force — were involved in high-level communications that allegedly “led to Facebook’s suppression” of the Post’s reporting.
The Hunter Biden laptop story was only the most high-profile example of law enforcement agencies pressuring technology firms. In many cases, the Facebook and Twitter accounts flagged by DHS or its partners as dangerous forms of disinformation or potential foreign influence were clearly parody accounts or accounts with virtually no followers or influence.
The key part to focus on is that during the 2020 elections, a federal agency, with significant input from law enforcement, was deciding the limit of debate on COVID response and election integrity. For example, the FBI was critical to the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story on the grounds that it was disinformation.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 31, 2022
The FBI and DHS were working directly with tech companies to police what information the American people could see during the 2020 election. But if you say it was rigged, you’re a dangerous election denier and if you protested it on J6, you earned a one way ticket to the gulag.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 31, 2022
This doesn’t seem to be going away. In fact, it appears to be getting worse.
Draft DHS quad review, which plans agency policy, leaked to us shows growing focus on MDM (misinfo, disinfo, malinfo) to protect homeland against spread of “toxic narratives.” How the agency defines false info and what narratives are prioritized isn’t clear. pic.twitter.com/DEopECw6sh
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) October 31, 2022
The FBI has no role in combatting “disinformation” and “misinformation.” It has no legal right to request a corporation (and by “request,” I mean “direct”) to take down legal material that upsets Washington bureaucrats and the people they send out to kill you.
This should be a warning to any Republican elected to the presidency in 2024 that the bureaucracy is their enemy and is trying to destroy them. Their first mission must be putting a halt to this garbage and firing anyone who participated, even tangentially, in the effort. I say 2024 because by 2028 if this mess is unchecked, it will be how we are ruled.