New information published by journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger ahead of their testimony to the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government today has revealed that government entities flagged “anti-Ukraine narratives” to Twitter for censorship. Additionally, it revealed that a project which has partnered with several state entities and urged tech platforms to take action against “stories of true vaccine side effects” was onboarded to Twitter's Jira ticketing system.
The new information was provided in a new batch of “Twitter Files” (internal documents that highlight how Big Tech often censored at the behest of the federal government, state-affiliated entities, or the legacy media) and their opening statements.
The new Twitter Files thread thread included a previous email from the “The Virality Project” urging action against “stories of true vaccine side effects” and “true posts which could fuel hesitancy.”
It also contained emails showing The Virality Project being onboarded to Twitter's Jira ticketing system.
The Virality Project was previously known as the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a coalition of research entities that push for censorship. The EIP previously claimed to have successfully pushed for almost 22 million tweets to be labeled in the run-up to the 2020 United States (US) presidential election and that tech companies take action on 35% of the URLs it flagged.
According to Taibbi, the EIP has partnered with state entities. It was created by the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) — an entity that Taibbi described as the “the ultimate example of state, corporate, and civil society organizations.”
The thread also noted that Twitter was “like a partner to government” and provided more evidence of the federal government flagging content for censorship.
Some of the content being flagged by the federal government included “anti-Ukraine narratives.”
The thread also described how non-governmental organizations (NGOs), some of which receive state funding, pushed for censorship and how the legacy media “repeatedly” acted “as proxy for NGOs.”
In addition to publishing a new Twitter Files thread, both Taibbi and Shellenberger shared their opening statements.
Taibbi's opening statement discussed how the internet's original premise of democratizing the exchange of information globally has been subverted and noted that the internet has now been turned into “an instrument of censorship and social control.” He described Big Tech-censorship collusion that has been targeted at people who are deemed to be spreading “misinformation,” “disinformation,” or “malinformation.” Taibbi also noted that the legacy media has “effectively” become “an arm of a state-sponsored thought-policing system” because it often supports this censorship and even encourages it at the behest of government agencies.
Shellenberger's opening statement criticized Big Tech-government censorship collusion and called for Congress to investigate the censors, cut off their funding, and limit their ability to censor and deplatform content.
Shellenberger also submitted a 68 page written testimony which noted that millions of dollars in government grants have been allocated to projects related to the science of “countering” social media “mis/disinformation.”
The written testimony also noted that Department of Defense (DoD) tools originally developed to fight terrorists are now being used against US citizens and state-funded think tanks are pressuring tech companies to censor Americans.
Additionally, Shellenberger called for a minor reform to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) (a law that gives online platforms immunity from civil liability if they act in “good faith” to moderate content) in his written testimony.
We obtained a copy of Shellenberger's written testimony for you here.