How Could We Be So Blind, Part 2
A Summary of Twitter Files Parts 16 – 20
About a year ago, Twitter CEO Elon Musk authorized the release of information about the company’s past relationship with government agencies and censorship, and a series of tweets were released by journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, Lee Fang, Michael Shellenberger, David Zweig, and Alex Berenson. Due to a falling out between Musk and Taibbi over rival features on Substack Notes and restrictions of links, the latter has left the platform, and since then, Twitter has become known as “X” (no longer retaining the name or logo of Twitter). Further complicating matters is that Taibbi became the victim of an IRS home invasion right after he had testified in front of Congress about free speech violations, sparking concerns that the government was targeting him and his Twitter Files.
There has not been another release since April 2023, so it appears that the Twitter Files may have come to an end (perhaps at the direction or threat of government). I did a summary of the first fifteen parts back in February, so I have now concluded my review of the final chapters of this important work, which include revelations of government censorship through third parties.
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Twitter Files Part 16
Matt Taibbi began by commenting about how the corporate media was outraged that President Donald Trump asked Twitter to remove a “mean” tweet from Chrissy Teigen, but yet, when Democratic and Republican politicians asked the company for similar eliminations of users who were exposing government corruption or information outside of the mainstream narrative, there was media silence. Maine Senator Angus King personally requested that Twitter remove content from his rival, Eric Brakey, and potentially hundreds of others who commented or followed Brakey’s posts. Republican State Department official Mark Lenzi asked the company to remove fourteen accounts that he personally viewed as connected to Russia (recall the fake Russian bot incident), and being that there was absolutely no evidence of such connection, this was an attempt to abridge free speech. Taibbi then revisited the Adam Schiff debacle and recalled that the House representative got Twitter to suspend a journalist and others spreading QAnon conspiracy theories and prevent any searches about one of his staffers. In Twitter Files Part 12, it was revealed that most requests by officials and government agencies to remove unwanted content was fulfilled (as can be seen, some of these requests were personal in nature).
Twitter Files Part 17
Taibbi next went into how the Global Engagement Center (GEC)-funded “anti-disinformation” think tank DFRLab targeted average Americans’ content by claiming that it was backed by foreign actors. One example of this was a list of 40,000 accounts that the Atlantic Council said were tied to (including receiving money from) a Hindu nationalist entity, the Bharatiya Janata Party, but were actually just average American citizens completely unfamiliar with Indian politics (some on the list were involved in Indian politics, but even so, free speech is free speech). The claim here is that Americans were blacklisted by the GEC, which is a government agency, and therefore, Americans’ speech was threatened, without evidence of ties to a foreign country (not that having a connection to a foreign country is illegal, and the speech of these individuals is still protected). Not only was there no due process for the Americans targeted, but the government followed the lead of fabricated evidence.
Twitter Files Part 18
In the next Twitter Files installment, Taibbi covered more of the censorship arising during meetings between social media companies (including Twitter) and government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Spreadsheets were created with hundreds of thousands of accounts that the government wanted censored or suspended (reports for such censorship came from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Treasury, NSA, and local police), and some of the accounts that made it to those lists were posts that could not be construed as misinformation or disinformation, so a new category called “malinformation” was created to deal with this inconvenient but true information (for example, “true content which might promote vaccine hesitancy”).
People claimed to have had ties to the Russian or Iranian government were censored as well. An Iraqi War veteran who blogged about war, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, and Truthout (where Noam Chomsky publishes) were all falsely linked to the Iranian government, for example. Even some who disagreed with the handling or funding of the Russo-Ukrainian War were censored.
All of this censorship became a complicated web of partnerships between government agencies (such as the FBI, DHS, and GEC), social media companies, the corporate (or mainstream) media, medical experts, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs include the National Endowment for Democracy, the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab, the Aspen Institute, and the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which created Hamilton 68). The new Censorship-Industrial Complex became a proficient force for violating Americans’ First Amendment rights.
The Aspen Institute, which receives funding from the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID is also funded by American taxpayers), held a conference, which included Katie Couric, Prince Harry, Yoel Roth of Twitter, Nathaniel Gleicher of Facebook, and Chris Krebs (founder of the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA). The conference highlighted the need for the government to have quick and easy access to all online data searches in order to be able to more efficiently censor information, regardless of First and Fourth Amendment violations. This process would be conferred to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), and one of the acts of the newly-created powers was to request the communications of Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Michael Shellenberger because of their work on the Twitter Files. Was the government really attempting to hinder the progress of the Twitter Files? What happened to America?
The NGOs had the power to determine which speech was acceptable and which was unfavorable to government-created narratives and needed to be eliminated, and the content moderation moved in all directions across the censorship web between government agencies, local law enforcement, and the corporate and social medias (such as PolitiFact, which is in turn funded by the same interests that fund NGOs). Even the Financial Times threatened Twitter with negative publicity if it did not suspend the accounts of “anti-vaxxers” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Joseph Mercola, and Sherri Tenpenny; and the Stanford Internet Observatory helped flag posts about the 2020 election in favor of the Democratic Party. In addition, Department of Defense (DoD)-funded Newsguard and GEC-funded Global Disinformation Index even gave the corporate media ratings for how well they were able to handle “dangerous” information. Yes, government-funded NGOs have the power to influence what is reported in the mainstream media. Did you ever wonder why during the COVID-19 pandemic every single media source parroted the exact same lines and pushed the same propaganda (recall: “flatten the curve,” “trust the experts,” and “safe and effective”), without any of them questioning any of it or providing independent views involving critical thinking?
Twitter Files Part 19
Taibbi then went on to describe the Censorship-Industrial Complex in more details by showing the Stanford University’s Virality Project, which further monitored and flagged posts. For example, the idea that the novel coronavirus originated in a bat coronavirus laboratory in Wuhan, China was not an acceptable narrative early on, so it had to be removed from public viewing (it would be quite the coincidence if a natural pathogen arose out of the same city where they were experimenting on the very thing that caused the pandemic). Yes, even the prestigious Stanford University partnered with the government to censor information and even classified true stories of vaccine injuries and vaccinated people getting the disease as malinformation, because these ideas might have led people to be hesitant to take the pharmaceutical drug (if you have to work that hard to convince people to get a vaccine, it shows that perhaps it is not all that it is presented to be).
Some examples of true stories that were classified as dangerous misinformation included: celebrities receiving the vaccine dying shortly afterwards, a Central New York school district closing because of a sickness spreading right after the administration of the vaccine, government attempts to set up a vaccine passport system and the related loss of freedom, blood clots and thrombocytopenia (a blood disorder) found after the AstraZeneca vaccine was distributed, official data without reliance on the official interpretation of that data, narratives about forced vaccinations, and the death of Drene Keyes (an elderly black woman) after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. Anyone “just asking questions” was flagged as a potential candidate for censorship, as if investigating authority and claims is not something that should be done in the journalistic and scientific environments.
When the Virality Project started censoring people for posting about natural immunity, which is a concept that has been accepted for hundreds of years in the scientific community, it should have been clear that the experts, medical establishment, academia, and the social and corporate medias cared little for actual science and more for the profits of pharmaceutical companies. Why would you want vaccine-induced immunity when your body could take care of the problem on its own (naturally)? The fact that doctors and scientists (perhaps unwittingly) were shilling for Big Pharma should tell you all that you need to know about the pandemic and the measures put in place.
Once it became clear that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arbitrarily started to determine that only vaccinated people who were hospitalized or died would be classified as having COVID-19 because the “breakthrough” cases would harm the narrative that the vaccines were working, there was no mistaking that science had become corrupted. The Virality Project was adamant about labelling people as spreaders of disinformation for suggesting that the vaccine did not prevent transmission or that “breakthrough” cases were not all that rare, and yet, those engaging in the censorship were wrong (the “misinformation spreaders” were correct). What does this tell you about the power of propaganda and the ability to shut down opposing voices? Clearly, the government was attempting to cover up what was happening and lying to the public to do it.
Additionally, Graphika (a military-funded NGO), which was a party to the Virality Project, created a report called “Fauxi” to improve the public’s respect for authority and herd people into accepting centralized narratives. According to this particular censorship effort, even releasing Dr. Fauci’s emails for transparency purposes was considered a threat to public health because it would cause distrust in our national idol of medicine. Everyone needs to trust the experts, after all, regardless of the accuracy or intentions of their works.
Groups setting up rallies, such as the Worldwide Rally for Freedom, were also targeted by the project. Stanford University, like many other parties to the censorship state, went after people who it falsely accused of being associated with the Russian government, including Italian politicians, and of course, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and other vaccine skeptics were constantly flagged.
The Virality Project created a JIRA system to observe and flag posts and videos on Twitter, Google and YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, Medium, TikTok, Pinterest, Gab, Parler, Telegram, and Gettr. The project surveilled every corner of the internet, looking for information to eliminate and taking away people’s ability to learn information that ran contrary to official narratives. Stanford University became a government-partnered entity to police information and help bolster the narrative in favor of government agencies, and of course, we only know of this operation because Twitter was a party to the Virality Project.
Academia was very much involved in the censorship, which is ironic, being that part of the education process is supposed to be about learning new information and forming conclusions based on that information (not relying on dogma and pre-determined results to hinder independent thought). Stanford University went on an active crusade, at the direction of the federal government, to purge the internet of anything construed as anti-vaccine misinformation.
Come to find out, the Virality Project was one of the driving forces behind the Orwellian “Disinformation Governance Board” (dubbed as the Ministry of Truth by some). The effort started as an idea to give CISA a “rumor-control mechanism to address nationally trending narratives” (“Misinformation and Disinformation Center of Excellence”), and soon after, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas publicly declared that such an entity would come into existence and be headed by Nina Jankowitz.
The DHS and CISA were hardly the only government agencies that the Virality Project partnered with, and others included: the CDC, GEC, and DoD; and the Harvard University’s 2020 Election Integrity Partnership’s (EIP) Renee DiResta, who headed the research, previously worked for the CIA and then headed up the Virality Project. Interestingly enough, EIP Director Alex Stamos admitted that the Virality Project was started as an attempt to “fill the gap of things the government couldn’t [legally] do,” so there is no doubt that the government was absolutely censoring information through third parties. According to Matt Taibbi, the government evolved its information security and monitoring from targeting terrorism overseas to preventing foreign interference to moderating almost all of Americans’ content online.
Twitter Files Part 20
The next (and perhaps final) installment of the Twitter Files was written by Andrew Lowenthal (Network Affects), who was the director of Engage Media (an NGO dedicated to protecting digital rights), and he wrote about the deterioration of NGOs and how they have become hubs of policing information and censoring speech. He commented on how these organizations are proud of their ability to monitor content and manipulate narratives, and even the Pentagon was conducting operations in conjunction with them (for example, there was a tabletop exercise prior to the 2020 election). Furthermore, it was revealed that there was a sharing of information between the military and its subcontractors (such as Mitre) and other government-funded organizations (such as the Aspen Institute and Graphika, which is funded by the Pentagon, Navy, and Air Force) for the purposes of monitoring information. Yes, it appears that the U.S. military was involved in policing information and ensuring compliance among the public with government narratives.
Lowenthal then went on to mention the revolving door (employees and officials moving freely from one place of employment to the other in obvious partnerships) between the government, academia, NGOs, and social media companies. This concept is well documented, but when you learn about how deep the censorship runs, including NGOs creating blacklists of accounts that speak out against the narrative (for example, the Atlantic Council observing people who opposed the Iran deal), it is even more concerning. The blacklists then make it to social media companies to ban material or suspend accounts, and over and over, the same actors meet together and conspire about how to censor information, including at NATO STRATCOM, the Center for European Policy Analysis, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The fact that the corporate media and government agencies work together takes away from the concept of independent journalism, as reporters have become “participants” in the censorship, and the fact that the DoD subsidizes corporations to run disinformation-purging campaigns is astounding (for example, the Pentagon sent $979 million to Peraton to battle misinformation from foreign rivals).
The author also explained the Aspen Institute’s tabletop exercise with the Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NBC, CNN, Twitter, Facebook, Stanford University, and a few NGOs (particularly FirstDraft) in anticipation of the dissemination of the Hunter Biden laptop “hack and leak.” Of course, the mainstream media (which participated in the censorship) was silent on the story, and then when it could no longer remain silent, it scrambled around for a cover story. Secretary of State Antony Blinken created a fake letter, signed by fifty former intelligence officers (likely paid handsomely), blaming Russia for the hack and spreading of “disinformation” surrounding the laptop (ironically, the government and media were the ones spreading disinformation).
Privacy was also violated in a huge way. Omidyar helped fund CryptoChat to tap into the private (even encrypted) messages of individuals to find information to censor, and The Algorithmic Transparency Institute (a partner in the Virality Project) spied on the public by listening in on cellphone applications and collecting data, outside of the Fourth Amendment and any contractual agreements on platforms (since the government was involved, there will be no prosecutions for the illegal behavior).
How anyone can learn about this material and the censorship efforts being conducted by government agencies and not become outraged is beyond me. Perhaps people being unaware of this is the problem, but at the same time, I listen to left-wing commentators who literally lie to their audiences and claim that any of these things (especially the Hunter Biden laptop story) is fake news or disinformation. The American people are being manipulated and subjected to a censorship apparatus that even Adolph Hitler or Joseph Stalin would be proud of, as they could have only wished to have had the technology that is available now to be able to silence dissident voices. The censorship that has risen in the United States makes past totalitarian regimes look like amateurs. The political elites give the American public the illusion that we are free while they work hard behind the scenes undermining the principles of liberty. If we are not free to express ourselves as we please, we cannot claim to be a free country. Will Americans eventually wake up to the reality that our institutions are working against our best interests and pushing agendas of control and profit for the few? This sophisticated conspiracy is laughed off as crazy at best and punished as dangerous at worst. Yet, it is, in fact, occurring.
Thank you for reading, and please check out my book, The Global Bully, and website.
Thanks for reading Craig’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.