On Tuesday, America First Legal (AFL) nonprofit sued people behind the Election Integrity Partnership and Virality Project in a federal class action, accusing them of conspiring with the US government to carry out online censorship on a mass scale.
AFL filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Health Freedom Louisiana co-director, Jill Hines, and The Gateway Pundit news site founder Jim Hoft.
The defendants – the Stanford Internet Observatory, its director, and research manager, Alex Stamos and Renée DiResta, University of Washington’s Dr. Kate Starbird, Graphika (a social media analytics company), and the Atlantic Research Council’s Digital Forensic Lab – are alleged to have in 2020 monitored 859 million and tracked 22 million posts as “candidates” for censorship on Twitter along – in the time before the ownership change.
We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.
In 2021, in seven months of that year, the focus was on posts about Covid, when AFL says 200 million engagements were flagged and tracked to determine if they should be censored.
The lawsuit’s key point is that the said projects and people behind them worked in collusion with the federal government in order to censor political speech and, other than on Twitter, this was allegedly also happening on Facebook and YouTube.
What these groups were trying to achieve was to stifle what the plaintiffs considered legitimate political speech around content related to the US 2020 election, (by preventing conservative voices from questioning its integrity), and issues like Covid vaccines and pandemic mandates, the non-profit explained.
The lawsuit accuses US national security officials operating on the federal level of involvement in coming up with this huge surveillance operation – for the purpose of evading First Amendment speech protections, which the government cannot – if it is acting within the confines of the Constitution – do on its own.
However, AFL noted, if the allegations from the lawsuit are proven to be correct – this behavior will have represented “an overt, intentional, and explosive violation of the Constitution at the hands of the government.”
The nonprofit’s President Stephen Miller referred to the lawsuit as a “landmark” moment in the fight against “the censorship-industrial complex.”
And it has taken root and is developing under the guise of combating misinformation – while instead producing censorship and deplatforming.