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Twitter and the Department of Homeland Security
Newly released documents show the government and little bird getting cozy; don't worry, Twitter, my lawyers and I aren't paying attention to them!
A senior Department of Homeland Security official planned to meet Twitter executives in April to discuss potential censorship “partnerships” between the federal government and Twitter, a leaked government memo reveals.
The meeting was intended to be “in person,” “off-the-record,” and “closed [to the] press,” according to the memo, part of a cache of documents two Republican senators released last night.
Another document in the cache - this one from September 2021, just weeks after Twitter banned me - explains that dissent around Covid and vaccines was a focus of the department’s “efforts to combat misinformation.”
The memos raise still more questions about the extent of the cooperation between Twitter and federal officials last year, as the company censored me and other skeptics about Covid countermeasures and mRNA vaccines.
NOTE: “DVE” stands for domestic violent extremism, while “MDM” stands for “mis-, dis-, and malinformation.”
While mis- and disinformation are false - at least according to the would-be government censors hoping to ban them - malinformation is not. By the government’s own definition, malinfomation is “based on fact but used out of context.”
In other words, “malinformation” is a debating point that the government doesn’t like.
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) released these documents last night, as part of their investigation into the Biden Administration’s short-lived and star-crossed “Disinformation Governance Board,” i.e. its effort to control social media. The Department of Homeland Security now says the board is “paused.”
The documents in the cache come only from the Department of Homeland Security and begin only in September. Thus they do not shed light directly on what discussions Twitter may have had with other officials at other departments or in the White House around the time it banned me.
But they make clear that although Facebook received more public attention, government officials were very focused on influencing Twitter’s role in public debate.
The Homeland Security memo describing the potential meeting between Robert Silvers, who is the department’s Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans, and the two Twitter executives explains that Silver had already met previously with another Twitter executive.
The memo also notes that Nick Pickles and Yoel Roth - the two Twitter executives scheduled to meet Silvers - “both know DGB [Disinformation Governance Board] Executive Director Nina Jankowicz.”
Jankowicz became infamous in late April after a video of her singing about “misinformation” to the tune of a Mary Poppins song. She has now resigned as the board’s director.
It is not clear whether the meeting between actually took place, or what specifically was discussed if it did. But Grassley and Hawley have now directly asked the department whether it “asked or suggested to” Twitter and other social media companies that they “suspend or ban” people who made posts the department did not like.
So just how closely did Twitter work with DHS - or, just spitballing here, the Centers for Disease Control or the Surgeon General or the White House itself - last year? Did it talk to them about censoring, say, me?
Enquiring minds want to know. (As the old slogan goes.)
I want to know!
If only I had a way to find out.