'Censorship Files': Big Brother 'Misinformation' Censorship Complex Plots Return in 2024

Eighteen months ago, Elon Musk bought Twitter and opened its files to expose the Big Tech/government censorship complex under the guise of fighting 'misinformation.' The resulting outrage appeared to have platforms distancing themselves from such efforts, at least at first. 


However, one brief soliloquy from the film Serenity has run through my mind ever since Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Michael Shellenberger first made clear just how deeply the federal law enforcement and health bureaucracies had interfered with debate and dissent. Had exposure from the Twitter Files really discouraged further efforts by government and Big Tech, especially aimed at conservative media and voices? Chiwetel Ejiofor's lament as The Operative resonates in this context especially well today:

It's not over yet. I can't guarantee that they won't come after you -- the Parliament. Your broadwave about Miranda has weakened the regime, but they are not gone. And they are not ... forgiving. 

As it turns out, my skepticism was warranted. As Taibbi and Shellenberger report today, the Big Brother censorship regime has been weakened, but they are not gone -- and are not forgiving either. At Racket News, Taibbi began rolling out "The Censorship Files," painstakingly put together through scores of FOIA demands that got slow-walked by government agencies. 

Big Brother wants to put the Orwellian band back together, assisted by mainstream media sources doing their best to kneecap the competition and the opposition:

In the last year, newspapers, magazines, and even broadcast programs like 60 Minutes have been aggressively arguing that civic-minded “anti-disinformation researchers” are suffering under assault by outside investigators, who misuse tools like congressional subpoenas and the Freedom of Information Act to slow or halt their crucial work. The “bad actors” are almost always described as “right-wing activists,” “conservatives,” “Trump’s allies,” and so on, who attack beleaguered protectors of the informational realm out of “bias” and bad faith.

Bullshit. These are publicly funded researchers who’ve spent years developing tools for suppressing or deamplifying the speech of the very people paying their salaries. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to use FOIA to find out what these programs do or how they’re funded, but a look under the hood makes clear why they want things that way...

Since the Twitter Files, Racket in conjunction with UndeadFOIA has sent out hundreds of Freedom of Information requests to publicly-funded “anti-disinformation” programs across the country. The full productions are printed here, and you may decide what is and is not taken out of context. Here’s a short list of what you may find in the two batches of FOIA productions pertaining to Starbird’s University of Washington[.]


Taibbi, Shellenberger, and their partner UndeadFOIA have begun rolling out the mass of new material that demonstrates the intention of using 'misinformation' to again suppress viewpoints and arguments in opposition to the cultural elite. They may have been weakened -- and perhaps even that is an overstatement -- but they are not gone, and they do not forgive. Shellenberger made that point last week, in fact:

Normally, when politicians, journalists, and philanthropists are caught doing something illegal or wrong, they stop. Sometimes, they go to jail for it. Sometimes, they are shamed publicly. And sometimes, they make excuses. But, in most instances, the progressive march of history shows that when powerful people are caught doing bad things, they stop.

That’s not been the case with censorship. Despite repeatedly being exposed for having imposed or demanded ever-more online censorship, politicians, journalists, and philanthropists continue to make their demands.

In the new "Censorship Files," Taibbi first points out just how unrepentant these Big Brother collaborators were, and how connected they were to the Biden administration's Department of Homeland Security:

In this note from September 2022, former Facebook executive and Stanford Internet Observatory head Alex Stamos writes a note of encouragement to the other core members of EIP [Election Integrity Partnership]. Despite “some recent attention” from “right-wing media,” the EIP “will not be intimidated from continuing our mission in 2022 and 2024” ... 

The DHS had a significant role in the Election Integrity Partnership that UW worked on as a core parter. Twitter Files describe executives saying, “DHS want to establish a centralized portal for reporting disinformation,” while the House Weaponization Committee found an email from an Atlantic Council participant noting, “We just set up an election integrity partnership at the behest of DHS/CISA.” One of the main EIP partners, the Center for Internet Security, was also significantly funded by the DHS.


In fact, as Taibbi and UndeadFOIA discovered in their latest efforts, all of the same people seem to be attached to the various efforts to silence dissent and criticism:

“The thing that I found shocking,” says UndeadFOIA, “is how the same people seem to be involved in every facet of the anti-disinformation space. It doesn’t matter what University you go to or what program name it’s under, it’s the same people that pop up over and over.”

The Twitter Files gave us names like Renee DiResta of Stanford, Kate Starbird of the University of Washington, Darren Linvill of Clemson, Joan Donovan* at Harvard, Caroline Orr of the University of Maryland, and perhaps two dozen other key figures, many of whom move freely from academia to officialdom to the private sector and back. Someone who was senior official at a federal agency like CISA ten minutes ago might now be Director of Information Integrity at Microsoft or a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Reading these emails, the lines between enforcement agencies, publicly funded university research outlets, and the internal trust and safety departments of private platforms seem blurred beyond recognition. It’s a blob.

This will bear careful watching over the next few days at Racket and Public, where the three plan to report on the rebuilding of the government-backed censorship campaign. It also bears watching in the mainstream media that has largely cheered censorship efforts, in large part to help suppress its own critics and to enable the progressive elite that run media companies to control the public square.


In putting together this post, I have tried to respect the paywalls at Racket and Public, both of which I support because of their efforts to defend free speech and liberty. (Taibbi in particular has far more up today than what I'm quoting.) It's more critical than ever to support such platforms, even when disagreeing on some public policy issues, because the Progressive Censorship Blob will be coming for all of us ... again. 

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024