The Washington Post has admitted that the censorship-industrial complex of “fact checkers,” think tanks, and NGOs, carefully constructed over the past half-decade to censor dissident voices, has been put on the defensive by a number of investigations from Congressional Republicans and red states.
“Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks” is the headline at the Washington Post, over a lengthy article which bemoans ongoing probes of the censorship industry by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
The article also credits the ongoing Missouri v. Biden lawsuit which has uncovered widespread collusion between the Biden administration and the censorship industry, as well as the activities of the Foundation for Freedom Online (FFO), a nonprofit that advocates for free speech online, for putting the censorship industry on the back foot.
DHS's cyber agency CISA scrubbed its website last week to purge all reference to domestic censorship.
CISA deleted 2 years worth of confessions to getting platforms to stop "domestic disinfo" by US citizens.
The "before" and "after" is here:
— Foundation For Freedom Online (@FFO_Freedom) March 7, 2023
The article quotes one leading member of the infamous Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), which played a key role in suppressing online political discourse ahead of the 2020 election, impacting the result, admitting that Rep. Jordan’s investigation s have been successful, costing the partnership seven figures.
Via the Washington Post:
“Since this investigation has cost the university now approaching seven [figure] legal fees, it’s been pretty successful I think in discouraging us from making it worthwhile for us to do a study in 2024,” Stamos said.
Another member of the EIP, Kate Starbird of the University of Washingon, insisted that her organization will perform similar activities in 2024.
Another member of the EIP told the Washington Post that the coalition is “looking at ways to do our work completely in the open” to help manage public perceptions of the organization’s work.
Pressure from Republicans has also had an impact inside the federal government, notably the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
The National Institutes of Health froze a $150 million program intended to advance the communication of medical information, citing regulatory and legal threats. Physicians told The Post that they had planned to use the grants to fund projects on noncontroversial topics such as nutritional guidelines and not just politically charged issues such as vaccinations that have been the focus of the conservative allegations.
NIH officials sent a memo in July to some employees, warning them not to flag misleading social media posts to tech companies and to limit their communication with the public to answering medical questions.
Years of fake news about alleged misinformation threats, including the “Russian disinformation” panic, which social media companies knew to be false, has also led to increased skepticism in Silicon Valley. The Washington Post quotes a recent report from the leftist Center for Democracy and Technology, stating that tech companies have become “less responsive” to the claims of so-called “misinformation researchers.
Overall, the picture painted by the Washington Post is a gloomy one for the censorship industry: declining credibility in Silicon Valley, federal government censors in retreat, and mounting legal fees.
Despite this, the censorship industry still has a firm foothold in American society. Newsguard, for instance, which has promoted smears of conservative media, still has access to millions of classrooms across the country. The labyrinthine global network of NGOs and think tanks pushing online censorship still has vast resources, including from national governments. The censorship industry may be on the defensive, but it is a long way from dead.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election. Follow him on Twitter @AllumBokhari.