Nov 1, 2022

The DHS Is Telling Online Platforms What To Censor, New Documents Show

Newly released documents show the full extent of the federal government's role in online censorship.

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Background: The Biden administration was recently sued for coordinating with social media platforms to censor online speech. Newly released documents from the lawsuit show how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) collaborates with social media platforms to censor Americans.

Why this matters: The evidence shows that the government has been a driving force behind censorship on social media. While private companies are allowed to censor speech on their own platforms, government-imposed censorship is quite a different story.

The details

How? Meta and Instagram created unique software solely for government and law enforcement officials. Through the software portal, government officials can easily select the content they want the platforms to censor.

Who? The DHS, FBI, Justice Department, and intelligence officials met with Twitter, Meta, Wikipedia, Microsoft, Discord, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media to discuss false information about the 2020 election. Election-related meetings of this nature are ongoing and eventually included talks with JP Morgan Chase.

Why? The DHS wanted to censor “misinformation and disinformation” on issues like “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.” Private “election integrity” groups also used these flagging methods to censor “misinformation” during the 2020 election.

Big picture: In April, DHS created the Disinformation Governance Board to work with Big Tech companies in an official capacity to censor speech. Following severe public backlash, the department trashed the idea. But these newly released documents show that what Americans feared was a momentary slip into Orwellian society was and is still happening.

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