Censorship 101: Details on how social media and the Department of Homeland Security locked arms to suppress free speech in 2020’s election cycle

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By BEN WEINGARTEN

During the 2020 election, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) partnered with the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a consortium of groups led by the Stanford Internet Observatory, to track and counter what they considered mis- and dis-information.

EIP surveilled hundreds of millions of social media posts and collected from the cooperating government and non-governmental entities that it calls its “stakeholders” potential violations of social media platforms’ policies concerning election speech.

It coordinated its efforts primarily through a digital “ticketing” system. There, one of its as many as 120 analysts or an external partner could highlight a piece of offending social media content, or narrative consisting of many offending posts, by creating a “ticket,” and share it with other relevant participants by “tagging” them. Tagged participants could then communicate with each other, in something of a group chat, about the veracity of the flagged content, concerns about its spread, and what actions they might take to combat it.

For social media companies this meant removing the content outright, reducing its spread, or “informing” users about dubious posts by slapping corrective or contextualizing labels on them.

During the 2020 election cycle, EIP generated a total of 639 tickets, covering some 4,784 unique URLs – representing content shared millions of times – disproportionately related to the “delegitimization” of election results. Major platforms including Twitter, Google, and Facebook responded to tickets in which they were tagged at rates of 75% or higher. The platforms “labeled, removed, or soft blocked” 35% of the URLs shared via EIP.

RealClearInvestigations has obtained data associated with nearly 400 EIP tickets, data produced for the House Homeland Security Committee in connection with its oversight efforts. The tickets come in the form of a series of spreadsheets. Each row represents one ticket. The Stanford group provided no key for the spreadsheets. Much of the information is redacted.

Here are just a few examples of the tickets EIP produced:

Ticket EIP-482 (created October 27, 2020) was originated by the CISA’s Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing & Analysis Center (EI-ISAC). It concerns a tweet from then-President Trump indicating “most” states permit one to change one’s original vote after engaging in early voting, which EIP categorized as potential “Procedural Interference.”

The analysts point to fact-checks from, among other sources, Buzzfeed and ABC News challenging the president’s claim. Following two redacted comments on the ticket, an unnamed commenter writes, “Twitter received and is reviewing.” A subsequent comment reads: “We heard back from Twitter through CISA with this response: Our team concluded that the Tweet was not in violation of our Civic Integrity Policy.”

CISA-produced documentation shows the sub-agency’s chief counter-MDM (mis-, dis-, and malinformation) officer, Brian Scully, had also reported the tweet to Twitter, which responded to him directly about it. Therefore, EIP and its stakeholder, an executive agency, both forwarded the chief executive’s speech to a social media platform for potential censorship.

Ticket EIP-257 (Sept. 29), originated by the EI-ISAC, concerns a social media post from an unnamed user, alleging an absentee ballot had been delivered by mail to his dead father. An EIP stakeholder “flagged the post to Facebook for removal and the link is no longer active which means it has either been taken down or made private to the individual’s Facebook.” A subsequent comment notes that “We also received confirmation from Facebook (by way of CISA) that Facebook took action on this case,” again showing EIP and CISA seemingly working as force multipliers in content moderation.

Ticket EIP-301 (Oct. 2), originated by the EI-ISAC, concerns a “tweet regarding voting machines.” An elected official reported that the since-deleted and unavailable tweet “is false. Voting machines work the vast majority of the time. Old machines do have issues, but to phrase it like [this] vastly overstates the scope of the problem.” CISA inquired as to whether Twitter took the tweet down. It did.

Ticket EIP-954 (Nov. 8), the origins of which are not discernible, concerns social media posts sharing an article from The Federalist, where I am a senior contributor, titled “America Won’t Trust Elections Until The Voter Fraud Is Investigated.” According to the ticket, the article “Misconstrues Disinformation as Evidence.” One tagged post comes from Federalist Editor-in-Chief Mollie Hemingway. A stakeholder writes to Facebook and Twitter in connection with the ticket that “this seems to be the greatest hits from the past 3 days wrapped up in one article. The article links to several of the gateway pundit links which have received action since Tuesday.” Twitter indicates it was reviewing the tweet, though it appears not to have taken action on it. RCI asked Hemingway for comment on the flagging of her tweet and publication’s work. She replied:

“This unconscionable censorship of The Federalist and its reporters is sadly unsurprising. The censorship-industrial complex in this country clearly views free speech as its enemy and will do anything to shut it down, including spreading lies and using intimidation to coerce private companies to censor factual, legal speech on behalf of the regime.”

Hemingway concluded with a warning: “The censorship-industrial complex better buckle up, because the days of conservatives taking this lying down are over.”

This article was adapted from a RealClearInvestigations article published Nov. 6.

41 COMMENTS

  1. “The censorship-industrial complex in this country clearly views free speech as its enemy and will do anything to shut it down, including spreading lies and using intimidation to coerce private companies to censor factual, legal speech on behalf of the regime.” It’s telling how many commentators here behave this exact way spreading lies and using intimidation to coerce, I suspect a few of them will even reply to this comment. Shouting down opposing viewpoints is all a part of their plan, you must agree or they will lie, they will attempt to intimidate, they will threaten. People who believe in freedom of speech do not try and silence others but use their words to inform and shine the light of day on the enemies of freedom.

    • Steve o

      Nicely said .
      I agree with your quoted statement!

      Free speech rocks because it is part and parcel for thought. It’s truly the weapon against a tyrannical government and stimulates the growth of humanity.
      I believe in shining the light of day on the enemies of freedom.

      Steve I like your new positive method of communication . Great Job!

      I look forward to learning many things from you.

      Occasionally free speech advocates shout a little and come off as rude when they are making a point or not being heard.
      Its just a necessary bitter fact of life under certain circumstances.
      Not unlike how self defense requires violence at times. Imo

      Thanks Steve ! Encore !

      • Eric , You speak the truth.
        It was impressive.
        You might even be understating his inaccuracy.
        On Mask wearing effectiveness , vaccine usefulness and safety , covid death data, his understanding of what is a constitutional covid or vaccine mandate law. Distorting the definition of historical words. Even his forcing the concept covid was equal to or greater than the Spanish flu. Yes we all make mistakes.
        The real issue was his “aggression” on anything covid . Shaming and twisting.
        Intentionally twisting data and words to serve his purposes. Stomping on anyone who had an alternative view.
        It would be interesting to know how many people he misled to make unhealthy deadly decisions.
        Its a good lesson to not be easily misled by someone who is the loudest most aggressive skilled persistent talker in the room.
        Just because a lie is loudly skillfully and forcefully repeated does not make it true. The government official narrative truly proved to be very wrong.

        Im truly glad he appears to have turned over a new leaf. I look forward to being enlightened by the new Steve-o .

        Happy holidays to everyone!

        • Sticking with the spreading lies part ehh “American”? You continue to repeat the same tired lies over and over and over. You’re a two trick pony and all you have is covid and lies. We’ve been over this before and yet you continue to outright lie about what I’ve written. ‘https://mustreadalaska.com/downing-seasons-greetings-or-as-elon-musk-says-go-f-yourself/#comment-311555’ Why do you continue to lie about stuff that happened years ago and has no bearing on anything, why do you so desperately want to be known as a person who willfully misrepresens the truth?

          • Steve, you can try to weasel out of your past history here, but everyone here KNOWS that you were a rabid defender of the COVID non-vaccines, and incessantly spread disinformation regarding their nature, their efficacy and their (lack of) safety, supporting the establishment narrative heatedly and in every particular. And you did so over a very prolonged period, never relenting nor apologizing nor ever admitting that you were WRONG, even well after the conclusive evidence emerged disproving the medical-political party lines regarding those mRNA (non-)vaccines.

            This record speaks to your honesty and integrity, in the here and now as well, and is highly relevant to any comments you continue to make. You cannot evade that, try as you desperately will.

          • Steve you are butt hurt because your own words convict you .

            Your dogma regarding covid vaccines, masks ect did not age well .

            Steve you will forever be known as the person who spread Covid disinformation aggressively for 4 years aprx. Just live with it. Move on .

            It would be interesting to know how many people followed your unhealthy misinformation? Did anyone die because they accepted your poorly researched dogma?

            Lets move on eh

            Steve let’s move past your dishonest propaganda.

            Lets stop the personal attacks .
            Its not you against me . Or vise versa .

            Let’s work for the search of truth and light in this holiday season.

            Jefferson – btw , thank you for accurate analysis.

          • Jeff,

            With all do respect, you’ve spent years not reading or understanding what myself and others have written here regarding covid. You went so far as to make up your own definitions for words and simply disregarded the actual definition of words. You’ve continually misrepresented what I’ve said about covid because of your own failure to read and understand words that are written in black and white. I’m sorry that you’ve been so wholly consumed by covid fanaticism that you cannot or will not even try and understand what is written in black and white.

            I know you think you are right about everything, that much is clear, you aren’t though you are blinded by your fanaticism.

          • Steve, your duplicitous attempts to further whitewash your posting history here, and deceive those who did not read your continued and lengthy litany of pro-establishment mRNA (non-)vaccine misinformation and disinformation over the past almost three years, is simply not going to fly. I can literally feel you squirm as you desperately try to avoid having to deal with all your pro-big-pharm lies thrown back in your face.

            As I advise all those who were misled and harmed by the massive crimes against humanity that were inflicted on the general public by the official responses to the Wuhan Virus, I will advise MRAK readers as well: never forgive, and never forget. Those who will willfully and consistently spread false information regarding one matter will probably do so with other matters as well.

          • Jeff,

            Here is a partial record of what I wrote, while this is just a sampling of a few of the things I wrote about covid, these completely destroy your talking points as to what it is I actually said, and what it is you’ve convinced yourself I said in your fevered delirium of covid fanaticism. Please try and reconcile your imagined truth with what actually happened.

            Steve-O
            September 13, 2021 At 7:32 am
            “The Federal government does not have the authority to mandate vaccines”

            Steve-O
            November 5, 2021 At 3:15 pm
            “The reason this mandate is unconstitutional has a lot to do with the separation of powers”

            Steve-O
            November 4, 2021 At 6:21 pm
            “This (vaccine mandate) will quickly make it’s way through the courts and be ruled unconstitutional.”

            Steve-O
            November 16, 2021 At 7:56 pm
            “It’s pretty bad that the RNC waited until after the “red wave swept state and local elections across the nation” to denounce this unconstitutional mandate. It’s pretty bad that the RNC waited until after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals announced the stay on this mandate.
            .
            Thankfully the 6th Circuit won the lottery and will hear this case that will ultimately be heard by SCOTUS, and if it won’t be heard by SCOTUS it will be because they concur with the findings of the 6th Circuit.”

            Steve-O
            December 5, 2020 At 1:39 pm
            “Masks shouldn’t be mandated by government”

            You probably don’t recall me saying any of those things, do you? Your manaical obsession with covid and your inability to recall the actual conversation is worrisome, perhaps you are still suffering the side effects of long covid? Maybe it’s time you do like “American” suggests and “Just live with it. Move on” I was certainly wrong on somethings regarding covid, you were without a doubt wrong about somethings regarding covid. You don’t want to have your quotes reposted Jeff. Covid is done, move on, just live with it.

          • And we have yet more duplicitous dishonesty from Steve-O, pro-establishment shill and propagandist extraordinaire.

            Now go back, Steve, and list the many, MANY posts that you made defending the lies and misinformation from the CDC and other organs of the status-quo power structure regarding the mRNA (non-)vaccine, and the coordinated and extreme official fearmongering used to sell it to the public, which you hysterically defended and supported, including (as just a relative trifle) the CDC’s own redefinition of the very word “vaccine” in a pathetically transparent attempt to further sell the clot shot to a justifiably skeptical, but ignorant and fearmongered, public.

            PS: It is indicative of your wildly obsessive desire to propagandize here that you would take so much time and effort as to dig up (a selected few of) your old MRAK comments in the lame attempt to defend your indefensible posting record regarding the Wuhan Virus here; I would NEVER go to such lengths myself, as you simply are not worth the bother.

          • Jeff,
            You continue to show that your memory is faulty and facts do not matter to you. You’d never go to such lengths because you are allmabout the narrative and not about facts. Just one single example is your rabid insistence that I defended the CDC redefinition of the word vaccine, that never happened. What I did was ask you why you care what the CDC says when you know they’ve lied to you, what I did was provide you with the actual definition of the word vaccine, what you did was invent your own definition for the word. You keep telling lies and I will keep pointing out that you continue to lie. I can back up what I say and yet you are wholly incapable of backing up what you say, you’ve spent years misunderstanding the world around you and blaming boogeymen…it’s time to move on Jeff for your health and sanity.

          • Steve

            You are the who has been proven to misrepresent the truth.

            Jefferson

            Great job not kowtowing to the bully and purveyor of misinformation known as
            STEVE O He doesn’t have the integrity to just state his mistakes and misinformation.

            Steve O

            The reason people should not move on from your purveyance of covid misinformation is because you helped the government ruin people’s lives health, trample on their rights, liberty , and jobs.
            Its not something a just society should move on from because the government is set up to do it again and you will help them.

            The time to stand for right and liberty is now .

            Steve you helped the government trample on the citizens and you should apologize for being a purveyor of disinformation.

            I am glad our founders did not just move on from the injustices the British monarchy inflicted against them.
            The people of that era tarred and feathered those who held allegiance to the crown.
            Your purveyance of government misinformation deserves the same treatment.

            Let truth and liberty prevail!

          • “American”,
            Please show me where I did any of the things you’re accusing me of doing, please be specific…don’t try and selectively quote me like the last time when you tried to imply that I supported mandatory covid vaccines, which I never did.

            Where and when did I help the government ruin people’s lives health, trample on their rights, liberty, and jobs? Was it when I said the covid mandates from the federal government were unconstitutional, or when I said mask mandates were unconstitutional? Was it when I said people should be free to choose for themselves and should inform themselves instead of simply believing what the CDC or some quack online says? Was it when I questioned the mRNA vaccines, and looked to other covid vaccines that were a tried and true vaccine technology, or was when I said that people should take personal responsibility instead of relying upon government to do everythingfor them?

            Do I think that vaccines work, absolutely vaccines work. Were the covid vaccines a cure, absolutely not. I’m sorry that you and a few others need to make me the covid boogeyman and you’ve lumped all of your covid fears and paranoia on to me, but I can handle it and I won’t let you shout me down no matter how hard you try. I’m sorry that the government you rely upon so much as failed you so badly that you cannot come to grasps that we were in a global pandemic and that decisions were made and all of them weren’t what you would want, if you or Jeff ever need a hug to help you through the trying times that are behind us just let me know.

          • Steve, your disingenuousness and dishonesty are literally off the charts here, as they were during the entire Wuhan Virus period. I am not going to waste hours of my time digging up two year-old comments by you, but you DAMN well know what you said back then, numerous times, and your laughable attempts to whitewash your history here is simply not going to fly — I am far from the only one who read, and who remembers, your egregious pro-establishment propaganda and talking point back then, most especially about the nature and efficacy of the mRNA (non-)vaccine, which you DID defend and support at every turn.

            I simply really have to wonder at your motives here, in persisting in spreading disinformation, slander and lies. But one thing is abundantly clear, and that is that you are as much a stalwart defender of the corrupt and sociopathic status-quo power structure as I am not.

            Now, why don’t you call me an “anti-semite” once again, just for kicks.

          • Steve since you don’t want a selected quote of your disinformation presented I will refer you the prior 3-4 years of disinformation you spread on this site and others.
            Your history of aggressive comments here and elsewhere speak for themselves.

            If you want the full context then go read it yourself.

            (((( Im offering you a chance to clear yourself. ))))

            Openly apologize for spreading covid misinformation. Let us know clearly you made a human error in supporting the government narrative. For defending CDC party line on masks , covid vaccines efficacy and safety , and inaccurate causes of death numbers.

            Openly apologize for repeatedly verbally bullying people who had different opinions on the covid vaccines and masks.

            Apologize for claiming it was constitutional to have vaccine mandates.
            To force foreign substances into private citizens bodies.

            Just say you made a horrible mistake that you will be more careful to be skeptical of government propaganda and more thoughtful towards people in the future.

            Take this brave and bold step Steve and I will forgive and forget and not bring it up again.
            Its an important issue because knowingly or unknowingly you betrayed your country when you aggressively spread government covid disinformation.

            This is an opportunity for you to regain your honor steve . To recognize with freedom comes responsibility.

          • Steve

            I see you offered hugs .
            I don’t need one but if you apologize for spreading misinformation in the past and for the harm it caused i will accept your hug in respect for your offer to “bury” the hatchet and i will do my best to not bring up your past mistakes on the subject.
            At that point I will consider your remorse genuine.
            I will treat you as a brother or sister.
            ( i treat brothers rougher than friends though 😉)

            You also must start treating Jefferson more kindly or i will assume you like rough treatment.

            Light trolling,humorous good natured Razzing someOne is acceptable and reasonable . Normal.

            Abusively unjustly calling them Antisemitic is not acceptable because its meaning is so deep and dark it shouldn’t be used as carelessly as you have been.
            It should not be used except the most extreme proven cases .
            I don’t think you really understand the weight it carries for some of us .
            Ancestors died because of and ancestors fought to liberate our oppressed people because of it .

            Be more Judicious Steve O and may peace be upon us.

            Happy holidays!

          • Jeff/”American”,

            I understand you don’t want to take the time to support your lies, you’d rather just keep repeating them ad nauseum because it’s easy and to actually face reality would destroy your narrative. I have taken a little time to review previous posts related to covid by myself and yourself, due to the increasingly unhinged nature of your obsession with me. You’d be well advised to do a similar review of what was written and is documented before continuing with your attacks. You’ve clearly conflated comments from other commentators with comments I’ve made, this is something you have a history of doing.

            You’re right, I do DAMN well know what I said back then, and I know you distorted it then and you’re continuing to distort it now. There’s some receipts right up there ^ and there’s more in the way back machine that support what I’m saying now and what I said then, why it is that you think you know more about what it is that I think than I do is completely beyond me and any understandingof reality. I can support what I say and you refuse to…that says a lot and it’s very telling.

            We’ve been over this before and yes, vaccine mandates are constitutional. That doesn’t mean ALL vaccine mandates are constitutional, that means that SCOTUS has ruled time and time again that certain vaccine mandates are constitutional, this is decided case law that dates back centuries. This is not something I can apologize for, I am not a past or present Supreme Court Justice. Vaccine mandates are the law of the land, if you don’t like it take it up with SCOTUS. I’m sorry that you disagree with centuries of settle case law, such is life. Your refusal to accept these facts and reality is striking.

            Did I share information that I found while trying to come to grasps with the enormity of a global pandemic, yep I did that…I’m sorry that some of that information went against your chosen narrative, such is life. Did I ever support vaccine or mask mandates, no I didn’t even though you continue to claim I did without any supporting documentation whatsoever…and even in the face of documentation that proves you are wrong you continue to lie about it. Did I support an informed public and robust and open conversation, yep I did that to just as I do now…I don’t shout down opposing views, I will certainly call them out for what they are but I don’t shout them down and try to silence them the way you have. I don’t support the tactics that you’ve taken that follow the leftists playback to a T. You followers of Rules for Radicals sure know your step 13 “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Boy have you ever followed that step!

            Seriously, let me know when you want that hug you so clearly need.

    • The 1st Amendment exists, and is so important, for exactly the reasons you are disparaging there, Steve.
      .
      Unless it rises to the level of slander, libel, or actual threats, it is protected. And, that includes comments on MRAK articles. I applaud Suzanne for allowing the comments you describe.
      Even though, I agree, they are not exactly useful.

    • Steve
      We need to stop the disinformation that comes out of Washington first.
      Washington is responsible for a major portion of lies that start other lies look no further than Biden.

    • Since Suzanne, in an apparent change of heart, is now disallowing any challenges to the lies and misinformation spread by pro-establishment trolls, truth and honesty would no longer seem to have any place on MRAK. Nor would it appear do I any longer.

  2. Our legislators will rail against this ‘censorship’ in public hearings and make loud impassioned speeches in front of media cameras but in the private non public hearings where things actually get decided, both Republicans and Democrats will unanimously continue their support for this and nothing will ever change….

  3. One of my hopes and beliefs were that the US Constitution was real and enduring and applied in Alaska. I see now that the population of Alaska in addition to being striated by race/class is also intrinsically against the actual rights identified in the US Constitution. The public education has failed to teach anything of value so the Republic is now at risk.

  4. There should sometimes heretofore anyways be an appearance of one political side being preeminent and then a later reversal to keep the population unsuspecting that the system could be rigged. This exercise is certainly part of the subterfuge.

  5. This is yet another reason republicans need a candidate for President that isn’t Trump. This was Trump’s government that was doing this to us.

    • This started WAY before Trump was elected President.
      And… unless you have been asleep for the last eight years, you realize the government agencies were doing it as a weapon against Trump, not because of Trump.
      Examples:
      Russian collusion
      Stifling the Hunter laptop story
      Refusing to allow any rational discussion on COVID-19 measures, not allowing the narrative to be questioned in anyway.
      Shutting down any questioning of the 2020 election
      .
      And the list goes on and on, with the main target Trump. Collateral damage to the US population at large is secondary.

      • CBM, stop making excuses for Trump. Trump was the moron who appointed the head of CISA- the organization that suppressed free speech. Trump failed us. If you want to blindly support Trump you are not being objective, and you are not looking very smart.

        The swamp needs draining. But Trump failed to do so. He broke his promise to us.

  6. This is not the only problem, but we must all be cognizent of what goes on around us. A book called “The Great Awakening” may help us ALL do that. There are answers in there from a data nerd that may help us. I am not one of those, but am learning.

  7. The Democrats and liberals have this figured out…just come up with a good name or title like “Election Integrity Partnership” and then use that group to do exactly the opposite of what the name implies and enlist your mainstream and social media partners to lie about what’s really going on while suppressing opposing opinions in the name of protecting free speech. Execute that strategy well, and they do, and useful idiots like the run of the mill liberal or Democrat will take to the streets and airwaves to defend the very people who are using and abusing them. It’s as brilliant as it is simple but only the simpleminded can’t see it.

  8. Unless the speech rises to the level of slander, libel, or actual calls for violence, the Government has no right whatsoever to restrict it in any way.
    Sorry, but that is reality, even if the talk is “insurrectionist.” Unless it is proven in front of a judge that the person writing, speaking, communicating is in fact planning to commit a crime the government has no right to monitor or squash their speech.

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