Report: Gov’t Agencies Allegedly Colluded With Big Tech To Stifle Online Speech; State AGs File Lawsuit

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 03/04/2023

According to a lawsuit brought forth by state attorneys general, more than 50 government representatives from 13 agencies “threatened, cajoled and colluded” with social media companies to stifle online speech on issues the Biden administration despised, like election integrity, the origins of the novel coronavirus, and COVID-19 restrictions. The relationship with Big Tech, according to the lawsuit, went beyond FBI attempts to obstruct social media posts regarding potentially damaging material discovered on Hunter Biden’s laptop during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Attorney Generals Jeff Landry of Louisiana and Eric Schmitt of Missouri, both Republicans, described a vast, expansive “censorship operation” within the Biden White House that aims to “suppress private expression that government officials detest” in a 164-page legal complaint.

The complaint claims that inappropriate speech includes debating the efficacy of masks, the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and whether the virus that causes COVID-19 originated in a Chinese facility. In order to silence and discredit conservative views, opponents claim that Democratic authorities and Big Tech have formed a sinister relationship. The lawsuit goes after this alliance at its core.

The attorneys general claim that this repression of internet expression infringes on their state’s residents’ First Amendment rights. They said that the censorship’s full effects are still unclear.

In order to secure the suppression of private persons’ expression on social media, the federal officials “leveraged their weight and pressure on social media platforms to become firmly enmeshed in a joint business with social media firms,” the attorneys general stated. “The American people become subjects rather than citizens when the federal government conspires with Big Tech to restrict expression.”

In total, 54 people are named as defendants in the action, including President Biden, Anthony Fauci, the Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, and other agency communications staff members. There are 13 organizations identified as defendants, including the Justice, Commerce, Treasury, State, HHS, FBI, and Census Bureau.

Requests for comment from The Washington Times were unanswered from the White House, FBI, and defendant agencies.

Refusing to comment on the case, Twitter A request for comments was not answered by the other Big Tech corporations included in the lawsuit. The tech industry giants aren’t listed as defendants.

After receiving subpoenas from the tech giants, it was discovered that several authorities were speaking with them about their material. Mr. Schmitt and Mr. Landry recently revised the case.

At least 32 people, including top officials from the White House and Food and Drug Administration, have spoken with Meta, the company that runs Facebook and Instagram, about deleting information, according to the firm. The contact information for 11 persons, including senior State Department officials, was disclosed by Google’s YouTube.

Mr. Schmitt and Mr. Landry said, “The evidence revealed so far suggests that this Censorship Enterprise is exceedingly wide.” It reaches the highest echelons of the American government, including several members of the White House.

In Missouri, Mr. Schmitt is also the Republican candidate for senator. Last Monday, Mr. Landry declared his intention to run for governor of Louisiana in 2023.

According to the complaint, the administration can threaten or compel Big Tech to lose its market dominance by supporting antitrust laws, tightening privacy rules, and removing the shield that shields platforms from accountability for user-posted information. The cordial interactions between administration representatives and technology leaders, however, demonstrate the needlessness of such coercive measures. The exchanges revealed that tech firms were just as eager to follow the Biden administration’s rules.

For instance, Meta executives swiftly modified their policies after a Treasury official contacted them to discuss “possible influence activities” about COVID-19.

An anonymous Meta executive contacted Mr. Murthy in July 2021 after Mr. Biden said that Facebook was “killing people” by enabling users to publish suspected false information about the coronavirus vaccinations. The executive asked if they could “find a way to deescalate and work together productively.”

About a week later, the executive wrote another email to Mr. Murthy, the surgeon general, stating that Meta had strengthened its anti-vaccine disinformation policy over the previous week.

Another example is when Jen Easterly, the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, texted a colleague in February 2021 to say that she was seeking to collaborate with Big Tech to help government organizations “prebunk/debunk” purported vaccination falsehoods.

Some of the claimed censoring allegedly occurred prior to the Biden administration’s inauguration in January 2021, such as the FBI’s efforts to obfuscate data obtained from the president’s son Hunter Biden’s recovered laptop. The complaint refers to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, who said in August that after receiving a warning from the FBI, Facebook did conceal reports about Hunter Biden and his laptop.

In an interview with podcaster Joe Rogan, Mr. Zuckerberg said that Facebook took action to prevent the item from showing up in news feeds because the FBI suspected it to be fake news from Russia. After the election, multiple news organizations said they had confirmed the validity of the laptop after first rejecting it as a Russian misinformation campaign, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NBC News.

Twitter also withheld information on the laptop, which exposed information about Hunter Biden’s close relationships and international business agreements that some have criticized as appearing to be done to buy influence. Because it went against Twitter’s guidelines for disseminating “hacked material,” tweets posting news articles about the laptop evidence were prohibited throughout the 2020 presidential campaign.

Concerning two weeks before the 2020 election, Twitter changed its stance, but it continued to restrict tweets about Hunter Biden’s laptop, citing a rule prohibiting disclosing personal information.

According to Mr. Schmitt and Mr. Landry’s lawsuit, “Biden, his associates, and those operating in conjunction with them, fraudulently assailed the Hunter Biden laptop narrative as ‘disinformation’.”

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