The FBI has been pressuring Facebook and other platforms to censor misinformation on behalf of Ukraine, even when the information is not necessarily untrue, according to a report by independent journalist Lee Fang.
Fang learned about the FBI’s alleged role in the censorship after interviewing the head of the Department of Cyber Information Security of Ukraine, Illia Vitiuk.
“Once we have a trace or evidence of disinformation campaigns via Facebook or other resources that are from the US, we pass this information to the FBI, along with writing directly to Facebook,” said Vitiuk.
“We asked FBI for support to help us with Meta, to help us with others, and sometimes we get good results with that.”
They also flag information that might be true.
“When people ask me, ‘How do you differentiate whether it is fake or true?’ Indeed it is very difficult in such an informational flow,” said Vitiuk. “I say, ‘Everything that is against our country, consider it a fake, even if it’s not.’ Right now, for our victory, it is important to have that kind of understanding, not to be fooled.”
From the report:
“During the panel, Vitiuk thanked the Ukrainian government’s many public and private sector allies in the United States, including Mandiant, Cisco, CrowdStrike, Clearview, Google, Amazon, and Starlink, among others. Cyber security support from American partners has helped thwart Russian cyber attacks on civilian and military infrastructure and have been a “psychological game changer,” Vitiuk said. He emphasized that the FBI has been his agency’s ‘top partner.'”
While such tactics are a common, but controversial, warfare practice, the FBI is supposed to have the First Amendment to think about.
The allegations that the FBI continue to be involved in online censorship is concerning, especially given that the FBI’s censorship efforts have already been exposed by Matt Taibbi and other journalists who released the Twitter Files.
The FBI is currently being investigated for those claims as Republicans in the US Congress are operating a subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the FBI, as part of the House Judiciary Committee. The committee is looking at suspected abuse of power by several federal agencies and departments.