Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter may have capped the opening chapter in the Information Wars, where free speech won a small but crucial battle. Full spectrum combat across the digital landscape, however, will only intensify, as a new report from the Brookings Institution, a key player in the censorship industrial complex, demonstrates.
First, a review.
Reams of internal documents, known as the Twitter Files, show that social media censorship in recent years was far broader and more systematic than even we critics suspected. Worse, the files exposed deep cooperation – even operational integration – among Twitter and dozens of government agencies, including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, DOD, CIA, Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, and, of course, the White House.
Government agencies also enlisted a host of academic and non-profit organizations to do their dirty work. The Global Engagement Center, housed in the State Department, for example, was originally launched to combat international terrorism but has now been repurposed to target Americans.
The US State Department also funded a UK outfit called the Global Disinformation Index, which blacklists American individuals and groups and convinces advertisers and potential vendors to avoid them. Homeland Security created the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) – including the Stanford Internet Observatory, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, and the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab – which flagged for social suppression tens of millions of messages posted by American citizens.
Even former high government US officials got in on the act – appealing directly (and successfully) to Twitter to ban mischief-making truth-tellers.
With the total credibility collapse of legacy media over the last 15 years, people around the world turned to social media for news and discussion. When social media then began censoring the most pressing topics, such as Covid-19, people increasingly turned to podcasts. Physicians and analysts who’d been suppressed on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and who were of course nowhere to be found in legacy media, delivered via podcasts much of the very best analysis on the broad array of pandemic science and policy.
Which brings us to the new report from Brookings, which concludes that one of the most prolific sources of ‘misinformation’ is now – you guessed it – podcasts. And further, that the underregulation of podcasts is a grave danger.