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Join a Callin Discussion Thursday, 3:00 PM EST: With Journalist Ken Klippenstein
Live talk with the co-author of "Truth Cops," a major exposé showing the ongoing efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to police information
Although the Biden administration claimed to shut down its “Disinformation Governance Board” project in May and appeared to give a quick hook to Nina Jankowitz, America’s would-be disinformation Mary Poppins (whose appointment is still one of the most amazingly horrible, or horribly amazing, news stories in recent memory), a new exposé by investigative journalists Ken Klippenstein and Lee Fang at The Intercept reveals the DHS is continuing to build up its information-policing capability. I’m going to be talking with Ken tomorrow at 3:00 PM EST on Callin, and those who’d like to join can do so by clicking here.
I strongly encourage everyone to read “Truth Cops,” in which Ken and Lee produce a host of important revelations about the breadth and ambition of the federal government’s plans for controlling information flow. The piece shows how a DHS advisory committee containing (now former) Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde sought to expand influence over the “information ecosystem,” and uses court documents and texts to make the case for what law professor Jonathan Turley describes as the government “using social media companies to engage in censorship by surrogate.” Many readers are familiar with the FBI advising Twitter and Facebook to dial down or impede access to a New York Post story about Hunter Biden before the election, but as Ken and Lee show, this was only the highest-profile in a seemingly endless series of episodes, involving everything from medical messaging to parody accounts.
The following passage gives the flavor of the intimacy of the relationship between federal enforcement and the private platforms:
During the 2020 election, the Department of Homeland Security… forwarded information about a potential threat to critical U.S. infrastructure… The Twitter user in question had 56 followers, along with a bio that read “dm us your weed store locations (hoes be mad, but this is a parody account),” under a banner image of Blucifer, the 32-foot-tall demonic horse sculpture featured at the entrance of the Denver International Airport.
“We are not sure if there’s any action that can be taken, but we wanted to flag them for consideration,” wrote a state official on the email thread, forwarding on other examples of accounts that could be confused with official government entities. The Twitter representative responded: “We will escalate. Thank you.”
We will escalate. Thank you. If that isn’t already the working title of a dystopian novel or screenplay, America’s young writers aren’t doing their jobs. In any case, join Ken and me tomorrow for details on the DHS programs, how they’re structured, how enforcement agencies liaise with private companies, and more.