During the second hearing of the Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, the focus was on the “Twitter Files” that revealed the collusion between corporations and the government in Twitter’s censorship policies.
However, the three-hour hearing indicated that the public-private partnership is more extensive than the Silicon Valley-based major platforms.
Independent journalists Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi testified before lawmakers, both of whom were among the primary reporters who published the series following Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform.
The duo disclosed how private tech companies are employed by the federal government as intermediaries to regulate speech.
During the second hearing of the Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, the “Twitter Files” were discussed in detail. The hearing lasted for three hours and revealed that the partnership between the federal government and private tech companies is much deeper than just the major platforms based in Silicon Valley. Substack journalists Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi testified, sharing how the federal government uses private tech companies to regulate speech.
Taibbi stated in his opening statement that Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies have developed a formal system for taking in moderation requests from various government entities, including the FBI, DHS, HHS, DoD, the Global Engagement Center at State, and even the CIA.
He also noted that the network’s focus is to make lists of people whose opinions, beliefs, associations, or sympathies are deemed as “misinformation,” “disinformation,” or “malinformation.” Taibbi explained how this network of online disinformation police has created an entire industry that is solely focused on suppressing dissident speech by labeling it as “misinformation.”
“For every government agency scanning Twitter,” Taibbi said, “there were perhaps 20 quasi-private entities doing the same, including Stanford’s Election Integrity Project, NewsGuard, the Global Disinformation Index, and others, many taxpayer-funded.”
A British organization called the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) maintains secretive lists of news organizations it encourages major corporations to avoid advertising with, labeling them as “disinformation.”
Advertisers seeking to market their products online contract with such disinformation groups for advice on which websites to avoid. GDI has compiled a running list of blacklisted websites that include The Federalist, The American Spectator, Newsmax, The American Conservative, One America News, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Reason, and the New York Post.
Last month, The Washington Examiner’s Gabe Kaminsky shed light on GDI’s funding by the U.S. State Department.
Kaminsky reported that GDI has received $330,000 in American taxpayers’ money to track and blacklist conservative media in an attempt to defund them.
NewsGuard is another censorship group that receives federal tax dollars to discredit websites that criticize establishment narratives. While GDI works with advertisers to suggest where to spend their marketing budgets, NewsGuard is a browser extension that rates the credibility of news organizations.
The software is being implemented in schools nationwide and downgrades conservative websites while giving top marks to legacy outlets that bungled the Hunter Biden laptop story. In September 2021, the Department of Defense awarded NewsGuard a contract worth nearly $750,000.
Lawmakers on the weaponization committee scrutinized two disinformation groups during their second hearing on Thursday.
While Big Tech remained the focus, Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida indicated that the committee would investigate the disinformation industry beyond major platforms.
Gaetz asked about NewsGuard’s role in the censorship industrial complex, to which Shellenberger replied that both NewsGuard and the Disinformation Index were US government-funded entities directing revenue towards certain media companies.
Gaetz called the effort “astonishing” and emphasized the importance of investigating NewsGuard.