According to a report featured in Just The News, the Biden administration wound up doling out millions in tax dollars to a number of groups after the 2020 election who’d been involved in censoring purported “misinformation” on social media during the 2020 election.
The entity known as The Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) dubs itself a sort of arbiter of truth when it comes to election cycles, touting on its website that it was founded (conveniently) in 2020 under the noble guise of defending “our elections against online behavior harmful to the democratic process.”
“The EIP is a non-partisan coalition established to empower the research community, election officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, social media platforms, and others to defend our elections against online behavior harmful to the democratic process: attempts to suppress voting, confuse voters about election processes, or delegitimize election results without evidence. We focus our attention both during the election cycle, as well as after it when public perceptions of its legitimacy continue to be formed.”
One part in particular really sticks out in EIP’s proclaimed mission statement is the portion where it openly admits they work to “empower…government agencies” to combat “online behavior harmful to the democratic process,” a.k.a., censoring or flagging information on social media – undoubtedly much to the government’s liking.
As Greg Piper from Just The News describes the arrangement, the endeavors are “raising concerns among civil libertarians that a chilling new form of public-private partnership to evade the First Amendment’s prohibition of government censorship may be expanding.”
EIP is reportedly comprised of four organizations, namely “Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and social media analytics firm Graphika,” according to Just The News.
During the 2020 election, EIP afforded a sort of service to get the ball rolling on labeling what they believed to be misinformation online, which this service allowed federal agencies like DHS’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the State Department’s Global Engagement Center to put in “tickets” to request certain stories/online links be flagged or censored.
EIP was hardly secretive about this arrangement, as the group mentioned this arrangement in its overview report of its efforts in 2020.
“With the narrow aim of defending the 2020 election against voting-related mis- and disinformation, it bridged the gap between government and civil society, helped to strengthen platform standards for combating election-related misinformation, and shared its findings with its stakeholders, media, and the American public… The EIP used an innovative internal research structure that leveraged the capabilities of the partner organizations through a tiered analysis model based on ‘tickets’ collected internally and from our external stakeholders.”
And while EIP presents itself as being a “non-partisan coalition,” their 2020 report seemed to only purport to find misinformation coming from “Right-leaning ‘blue-check’ influencers” – as the words “liberal,” “left,” or “Democrat” is not mentioned a single time in this 2020 overview report.
The apparent success rate of EIP getting information flagged or censored online can’t be understated, with EIP boasting of how social media platforms took action on 35% of the online content flagged by them, with 21% bearing a content label, 13% being removed from platforms, and 1% harboring a soft-block where online users had to go through a warning message before proceeding to the linked content.
Mike Benz, a former State Department official and founder of the free speech advocacy nonprofit Foundation for Freedom Online, was among the first to uncover EIP’s sordid endeavors, describing the outfit as being one of the largest censorship operations working at the behest of the government and likely paved the way for the now-defunct Disinformation Governance Board.
“If you trace the chronology, you find that there was actually 18 months’ worth of institutional work to create this very apparatus that we now know played a significant role in the censorship of millions of posts for the 2020 election and has ambitious sights for 2022 and 2024.
Amazingly, there are now so many Ministry of Truth functionaries within the Department of Homeland Security. There are so many Ministry of Truth tasks, so many Ministry of Truth points of contact, so many different Ministry of Truth policies for whether to remove something, reduce it, slap a fact-checking label on it.”
Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde also finds the marriage between the government agencies and EIP deeply unsettling, likening the mingling of the two to conspiring, in a sense, to circumvent the First Amendment.
“The government knows that they cannot do it by themselves because of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits it. And then, they decide to partner with another entity, a private entity, a social media platform, or a university.
And then they say, ‘Hey, we’re going to feed you information that we think is disinformation, or we want to be disinformation. And then you go ahead, and you do the de-platforming. You label it as misinformation or disinformation.'”
As for the four groups that comprise EIP – SIO, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and Graphika – all four of the entities landed millions in federal grants from the Biden administration within two years after their 2020 election meddling.
Stanford and the University of Washington landed $3 million in grant funding in August of 2021 from the National Science Foundation for projects “to study ways to apply collaborative, rapid-response research to mitigate online disinformation.”
Graphika snagged $3 million from the Department of Defense in January of 2021 for a project described as “Research on cross-platform detection to counter malign influence.”
And the Atlantic Council has garnered $4.7 million in grant funding, mostly from the Department of Defense, since the 2020 election wrapped up.
One could reasonably see these lucrative grants as a sort of ‘thank you’ for enabling online censorship.
This piece was written by Gregory Hoyt on September 30, 2022. It originally appeared in RedVoiceMedia.com and is used with permission.
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