The US new private-public censorship, which grew out of 911 and lies about the 2016 election

The US new private-public censorship, which grew out of 911 and lies about the 2016 election. Michael Benz.

Last week, The Intercept published a set of leaks that drew broad interest in perhaps the most undercovered scandal inside the US government today: the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) quiet move to establish, for the first time in US history, an explicitly inward-facing domestic censorship bureau. …

Based on our investigation, below are seven bottom-line figures summarizing the scope of censorship carried out by DHS speech control partners, as compiled from their own reports and videos:

  • 22 Million tweets labeled “misinformation” on Twitter;
  • 859 Million tweets collected in databases for “misinformation” analysis;
  • 120 analysts monitoring social media “misinformation” in up to 20-hour shifts;
  • 15 tech platforms monitored for “misinformation” often in real-time;
  • <1 hour average response time between government partners and tech platforms;
  • Dozens of “misinformation narratives” targeted for platform-wide throttling; and

Hundreds of millions of individual Facebook posts, YouTube videos, TikToks, and tweets impacted, due to “misinformation” Terms of Service policy changes that DHS partners openly plotted and bragged tech companies would never have done without DHS partner insistence and “huge regulatory pressure” from government.

The citations above are from just the DHS censorship network’s impact on the 2020 election cycle alone. That was two years ago, when the narrative management machine referenced by The Intercept was first getting formed. Even the above figures, however, just scratch the surface of the full story.

While The Intercept rightly noted that DHS’s “truth cops“ now take on a range of other topics – such as Covid-19 and geopolitical opinions – it all started from, and grew out of, DHS’s speech control infrastructure set up to censor speech about elections.

That started with the 2020 election. …

Rig just one election a little bit … you know the drill — one lie leads to another. Intense wordsmithing was required:

On January 6, 2017, outgoing Obama Administration DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson designated “election infrastructure” as being “critical infrastructure” under the purview of DHS protection.

This designation, born out of unsubstantiated claims that Russia had just stolen, hacked or otherwise materially interfered with the 2016 election, tasked DHS with protecting election-related structure, such as polling places, voting machines and computer systems.

CISA’s Internet censorship power grew out of interpreting “critical infrastructure” beyond its hard physical meaning to apply to meta-physical concepts. By 2019, “foreign disinformation” on social media was increasingly framed as a “cyber threat” to election infrastructure.

Through this framing mechanism, CISA’s “cybersecurity” authority morphed into a “cybercensorship” authority. However, this move was initially limited to CISA only targeting “foreign disinformation”, through DHS’s Countering Foreign Influence Task Force.

But when the 2016 election-era “Russian interference” Special Prosecutor’s probe ended in July 2019 with former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s failure to find “collusion” between then-President Trump and outside Russians, DHS and CISA began to change their tunes.

The entire “countering Russian disinformation on social media” apparatus that had been constructed before July 2019 to censor, throttle and identify “foreign disinformation” was quietly, but entirely, pivoted to focus inward on “domestic disinformation.”

This “Foreign-To-Domestic Disinformation Switcheroo” on censorship was never widely conveyed beyond DHS doors out to the American people. It was plotted on DHS’s own livestreams and internal documents. DHS insiders’ collective justification, without uttering a peep about the switch’s revolutionary implications, was that “domestic disinformation” was now a greater “cyber threat to elections” than falsehoods flowing from foreign interference.

This meant that, henceforth, any US citizen posting what DHS considered “misinformation” online was suddenly conducting a cyber attack against US critical infrastructure. That was the legal framework under which DHS – and CISA particularly – drew their jurisdiction.

Surreptitiously changing the meanings of words is one of the favorite strategies of the current ruling class. So much easier than convincing people or getting their consent.

Now private organizations — funded by the government — do what the government censors are not legally allowed to do:

The main institutional character on the private sector side we will focus on in this story is a “counter-disinformation” collective called the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP). EIP is made up of four of the most powerful and politically well-connected social media monitoring and mass-reporting groups in the world. Their respective directors were all early industry pioneers in the rise of the censorship industry after the 2016 election.

The four entities comprising EIP are two universities, an influential foreign policy think tank, and a private social media analytics firm. They are, respectively:

  • Stanford Internet Observatory;
  • Washington University’s (UW) Center for an Informed Public;
  • The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab; and
  • Graphika.

One common thread connecting these four entities is that each of their directors were involved in aggressively alleging (unsubstantiated) claims from January 2017 through early 2020 that Russian interference had helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election by using inauthentic bots and troll accounts on social media.

Each of the four entities comprising EIP is also deeply connected to the US military and foreign policy establishment. …

Below is EIP leader Alex Stamos explaining the whole DHS-EIP partnership was set up to outsource censorship through EIP, “to try to fill the gap of the things that the government could not do themselves” because the government “lacked both kinda the funding and the legal authorizations”:

“Lack of legal authorizations” is a nice way of saying “illegal.” At best, legally dubious. So right there, you have Stamos directly saying the government couldn’t do it, so the government deputized Stamos’s politically like-minded outside network to do the dirty work. …

The deeper you look into EIP’s data and DHS meetings, the clearer it becomes that the entire DHS outsourced censorship structure was set up in June 2020 to pre-ban speech that could energize or mobilize opposition to a future “red mirage, blue shift” scenario five months away on Election Day.

EIP specifically sought out that exact image above to censor from social media. For example, EIP details how they repeatedly got TikTok to ban posts such posts because they “delegitimize the election results” …

To understand the AI technology EIP uses to track and monitor citizen speech, the below clip provides a useful lens:

EIP is well aware that pre-censoring US citizen debate about mail-in ballots five months before an election has the impact of devastating the ability of concerned citizens to pressure their state representatives to take legal action on changing voting procedures.

Read it all, wearing your shocked face.

How long before this methodology pops up in the rest of the west?